Americans have complicated views about the role social media companies should play in removing offensive content from their platforms.

Social media companies draw little public confidence in determining what offensive content should be removedA sizable majority of U.S. adults (66%) say social media companies have a responsibility to remove offensive content from their platforms, but just 31% have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in these companies to determine what offensive content should be removed.

A further twist: Nearly half (48%) say that in thinking about the kind of language people use, it is “hard to know what others might find offensive,” according to a recent Pew Research Center survey on the tone of political debate in the United States.

Opinions about the role social media companies should play in addressing offensive content are divided by partisanship, gender and age. Republican men – particularly younger men – stand out for their view that social media companies do not have a responsibility to remove offensive content from their platforms. (A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that Republican men also were less likely than Republican women – and Democratic women or men – to say online harassment was a major problem.)

Overall, about half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (52%) say social media companies have a responsibility to remove offensive content from their platforms. A much larger share of Democrats and Democratic leaners (77%) say social media companies have this responsibility.

Partisan differences are smaller when it comes to Americans’ confidence in social media companies’ abilities to determine what offensive content should be removed: Majorities in both parties (76% of Republicans and 63% of Democrats) have little or no confidence in social media companies in this regard.

Younger Republican men less likely to see need to remove offensive contentAmong all Americans, women are more likely than men (72% vs. 59%) to say social media companies have a responsibility to remove offensive content from their platforms. The gender differences in these views are wider among Republicans than Democrats. Fewer than half of Republican men (43%) say social media companies bear this responsibility, compared with 62% of Republican women. Comparable majorities of both Democratic men (73%) and Democratic women (79%) say social media companies have this responsibility.

When age is taken into account, only about a third (34%) of Republican men under 50 say social media companies have a responsibility to remove offensive content from their platforms, compared with 51% of Republican men 50 and older. Among Democrats, majorities of older and younger women and men say these companies have a responsibility to remove offensive content.