For the first time in its history, Twitter refuted inaccuracies in President Trump’s tweets. The social media company has long remained uninvolved on the types of misinformation posted on its platform. Yet on Tuesday this approach changed. Twitter included a “get the facts” label to two of Trump’s tweets urging the public to get informed about mail-in ballots after the president falsely claimed that voting by mail will cause the 2020 election to be a “rigged election.” What do frequent social media users think about Trump?
The PRRI 2019 American Values Survey asked Americans what social media platforms they have used in the last month and how often they use each of these social media sources. The survey revealed that nearly two in ten (19%) Americans report using Twitter and among these, one-third (33%) use Twitter several times a day.
In order to better understand what frequent social media users think about Trump, the PRRI survey (based on combined responses to various media sources) shows that a majority of social media users (55%) think very unfavorably of Trump, compared to 45% who use social media infrequently and 47% who don’t use social media at all. In addition, Americans who use social media frequently are less likely to strongly approve of the job Trump is doing as president, compared to non-users (13% vs. 20%). Surprisingly, when Americans were asked if President Trump could do something to win their approval, frequent social media users are more likely than non-users to say that President Trump could do something to win their approval (25% vs. 13%).
Unfavorable views of Trump are closely tied to partisanship. While Republicans (44%) tend to express very favorable views of Trump, most Democrats (82%) reveal very unfavorable views. Yet, these views differ between frequent social media users and non-users. Fewer Republicans who are frequent social media users express very favorable views of Trump, compared to their non-user counterparts (36% vs. 54%)1]. By contrast, Democrats who are frequent social media users are more likely to reveal very unfavorable views of Trump than Democrats who do not use social media at all (92% vs. 82%).
The PRRI 2019 AVS survey also asked Americans if they wish Trump’s speech and behavior were more consistent with previous presidents, regardless of whether they support or oppose the president, as well as if president Trump has damaged the dignity of the presidency. Frequent social media users are notably more likely than non-users to agree that Trump’s speech and behavior should be consistent with previous presidents (79% vs. 66%), but do not differ significantly regarding the dignity of the presidency. Solid majorities of both frequent social media users and non-users agreed that President Trump has damaged the dignity of the presidency (71% vs. 72%).
Even though Twitter’s move to underscore inaccuracies in Trump’s tweets showed signs of the company’s commitment to “civic integrity and voting,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey refused to remove Trump’s recent tweets promoting a conspiracy theory involving the death of a former staffer of Joe Scarborough, a news media personality and ex-U.S. congressman. Controversy remains regarding to what extent social media outlets should limit the types of misinformation posted in their platforms.
In addition, Republican frequent social media users are less likely to approve of the job Trump is doing as president than Republican non-users (42% vs. 62%). These results need to be interpreted with caution due to small sample sizes. Republican non-users N=85 and Republican frequent social media users N=108. There are almost no cases among Democrats who are frequent social users and non-users who approve of Trump.