NEW POLL: Strong, Bipartisan Majority of Californians Want Government Action to Protect Democracy from Disinformation, Deepfakes, and AI
Berkeley, CA — Less than one year from the 2024 presidential contest, 84% of California voters overall are concerned about the dangers that disinformation, deepfakes, and artificial intelligence pose to next year’s elections, according to a new Berkeley IGS Poll.
The new poll found the concern is shared broadly across the electorate. At least 78% of respondents expressed being “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” among all age groups, among all racial groups, among all parties, among men and women, and in urban, rural, and suburban areas.
“Voters have seen disinformation poison more of our politics in recent years, and generative AI has the power to rapidly intensify that trend,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, Executive Director of California Common Cause. “Without action, we may soon be in an information environment in which we don’t know what images, video, and audio we can trust. This new poll shows Californians are ready for our elected leaders to address AI and disinformation head on with new laws to protect voters from false and damaging information about our elections.”
Last week, California Common Cause launched a new entity, the California Institute for Technology and Democracy (CITED), which will attempt to find solutions that protect our democracy and elections from AI, disinformation, and deepfakes.
“CITED is ready to support lawmakers as they supply the urgent action that Californians are clearly calling for,” said Stein.
Nearly three in four voters (73%) believe state government has a “responsibility” to take action to protect Californians from political disinformation, deepfakes, and artificial intelligence. Seventy percent or more of voters in all age groups, all racial groups, and all income brackets believe state government has this responsibility. Support breaks somewhat by party lines, but at least majority support remains among voters of all party registrations: 86% of Democrats agree, 69% of NPP voters agree, and 54% of Republicans agree.
Other key highlights from the poll include:
- Voters see social media companies as responsible for the spread of disinformation and incapable of solving the problem:
- 78% of Californians agree technology companies and social media platforms are “contributing to a worsening of our political discourse by not identifying obvious mistruths and disinformation.”
- An identical 78% of Californians agree that technology companies and social media platforms “have too much power and influence when it comes to shaping laws and regulations that govern their own field in Congress and in the state legislature.”
- 60% of Californians disagreed that technology companies and social media platforms would solve issues without governmental intervention.
- Extraordinary support for transparency around deepfakes and algorithms:
- 87% of respondents agreed that tech companies and social media platforms should be required to clearly label deepfakes and AI-generated audio, video, and images that appear on their websites, with 70% agreeing strongly and 17% agreeing somewhat.
- An extraordinary 90% of respondents agreed that tech companies and social media platforms should be required to explain to their users and the general public how their algorithms work — i.e. how algorithms use user data to personalize ads, news, and other content — with 76% agreeing strongly and 14% agreeing somewhat.
“For many years, social media platforms have evaded the sort of common sense regulation that applies to airlines, pharmaceutical companies, car manufacturers, and other industries whose products can hurt the public,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, Executive Director at California Common Cause. “It seems in California voters are ready for the era of unregulated, consequence-free tech to end.”
Last week, California Common Cause launched a new entity, the California Institute for Technology and Democracy (CITED), which will attempt to find solutions that protect our democracy and elections from AI, disinformation, and deepfakes. The first-of-its-kind entity in California, or in any state, CITED brings together thought leaders in tech, law, public policy, civil rights, civic engagement, and academia to fight new digital threats to our elections. Independent of industry and with bipartisan leadership, CITED will provide analysis and guidance divorced from private agendas and partisanship.
The 2024 election is the nation’s first full-fledged AI election, and AI-generated deepfakes will become a routine part of our information ecosystems, where voters will not know what images, audio, and video they can trust. Some such threats are already emerging. With our federal government not positioned to take the urgent action necessary, and with Sacramento missing an unbiased, nonpartisan authority to lead efforts against such threats, CITED seeks to help California fill that leadership gap.