Racism and social media

An Ipsos survey looks at attitudes towards racism in society and on social media.

Recent polling from Ipsos shows the British public are divided on whether more action is needed to tackle racism in general, but finds strong support for tackling racist content on social media.

  • Around half (53%) of the public say we need to do more to tackle racism in Britain today. However, around 4 in 10 feel we are either already doing enough (22%) or more than enough (12%) of that there is no racism in Britain (3%).
  • While there has been a decline in the proportion of people from white ethnic groups who report seeing racist social media content (from 32% to 26% between 2021 and 2023), there has been no significant decline in the proportion of people from ethnic minority backgrounds who have seen such racist content (55%/53%).
  • There was strong support among Britons for action to address racist content on social media, including: for social media companies removing racist content themselves (77%);  financial penalties for social media companies who fail to remove racist content (68%); and social media platforms adding warnings to content that might be considered racist (66%).

Perceptions of efforts to tackle racism in Britain today

Half of Britons (53%) think we need to do more to tackle the racism that ethnic minorities in Britain face today. This figure is more or less unchanged since we last asked about this, in 2021 (54%). Of the rest, 22% think we are already doing enough to tackle racism, 12% that we are already doing more than enough, and 3% that there is no racism faced by ethnic minorities in Britain today, while 9% were unsure.

Ipsos Chart: Just over half of Britons think we need to do more to tackle racism experienced by ethnic minorities in Britain today

People who are themselves from ethnic minority backgrounds are much more likely to say we need to do more to tackle racism in Britain – 69%, vs. 50% of those from white ethnic groups.

Younger people and 2019 Labour voters are also more likely to say we should do more to tackle racism – 71% of 2019 Labour voters said this, compared with 34% of 2019 Conservative voters.

Since 2021, there has been a fall in the proportion who feel racism is discussed too much in Britain and a slightly increase in the proportion that feel it is discussed ‘about the right amount’.

People from ethnic minority groups and younger people are less likely than people from white backgrounds and older people to feel there is too much discussion of racism and more likely to feel there is too little discussion.

Experiences of and attitudes to tackling racism on social media

Compared with 2021, there has been a fall in the proportion of people who say they personally have seen racist social media content – 29% say they have seen such content in the last year, down from 36% in 2021. However, this decline has largely been among people from white ethnic backgrounds (32% in 2021 to 26% in 2023) – there has been no significant decline in the proportion of people from ethnic minority backgrounds who have seen racist social media content (55% in 2021, 53% in 2023).

Ipsos Chart: The decline in seeing racist social media content between 2021 and 2023 appears to be largely among people from White backgrounds

Facebook and X/Twitter were the most commonly mentioned platforms where people had seen racist content online.

There was strong support for various actions to tackle racist content on social media, including:

  • for social media companies removing racist content themselves (77%)
  • financial penalties for social media companies who fail to remove racist content (68%), and
  • social media platforms adding warnings to content that might be considered racist (66%).

Technical note

  • Ipsos interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,698 adults aged 16+ in Great Britain, including boosts of adults from ethnic minority backgrounds (238 from a black background and 216 people from Asian ethnic groups).
  • Interviews took place on the online Omnibus between 30th September and 4th October 2023.
  • Data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of errors.

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