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Facebook, Google, Instagram, and other social media giants based in the United States,  faced little to no government oversight. But their reach extends around the world, influencing a wide spectrum of audiences in a variety of ways.

A Northeastern survey of four diverse democracies found that people in other countries differ from Americans when it comes to opinions as to how social media companies should be regulated, with respondents in the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Mexico favoring stricter content moderation than people in the U.S.—especially in cases that cause harm or distress.

Governments around the world have debated regulations to curb the misinformation and hate speech that has proliferated on social media. The study, led by GRI Faculty Affiliate, John Wihbey, and Northeastern journalism faculty member Myojung Chung, compared public opinion across the four nations on issues of online censorship, free speech, and social media regulation.

The study affirms the importance of developing a coherent global policy—one that tailors content to meet the demands and expectations of a variety of countries and cultures.