Washington – New, first-of-its-kind research from the CCIA Research Center and NERA Economic Consulting finds that online hate speech harms both the companies advertising alongside the content and the apps and websites hosting it. The findings provide evidence against proposed “must-carry” policies in Texas and Florida, showing that laws requiring digital services to host all legal user-generated content – including hate speech – could damage the digital economy. The report replicates its findings across two independently-administered survey experiments, and CCIA encourages further replication.
The report analyzes the results of the first two public-facing survey experiments evaluating the impact of harmful third-party content on user attitudes toward websites and online advertisers. Both survey experiments used simulated content in a mock social media feed with imitation advertisements to measure respondent attitudes toward websites, apps, and advertisers before and after viewing simulated hate speech. Using rigorous methodology, the report found that an average of 40% of respondents reported liking the social media service less after viewing simulated hate speech content, while 20% reported that the content made them like the advertiser less.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has advocated for tech policy that advances innovation and grows the digital economy for over 50 years.
The following can be attributed to CCIA Chief Economist & Director of the Research Center Trevor Wagener:
“CCIA and NERA have conducted the first-ever rigorous empirical evaluations of user responses to simulated hate speech online. The findings indicate that user attitudes toward both digital services and adjacent advertisers are harmed by simulated hate speech, and ad click-through and purchase intentionality decline as well. The results suggest that “must-carry” policies proposed in Texas and Florida that would increase the prevalence of hate speech online would directly harm digital services and their advertisers/business users, undermining the two-sided markets that support the $3.7 trillion digital economy and 8 million U.S. jobs.”
The following can be attributed to CCIA President Matt Schruers:
“This research provides direct evidence of the significant harms to websites, apps, and advertisers presented by laws forcing digital services to host all legal user-generated content. The findings prove that when the government infringes upon private companies’ First Amendment rights to decide what content is appropriate for their audiences, the entire digital economy suffers.”