Americans Divided on Free-Speech Rights for Internet 'Bloggers'
Hostway National Survey Sets Benchmarks for Blogs' Credibility, Utility for Business Communications
Chicago, IL—Tuesday, April 19, 2005—As blogs compete for credibility among established media, respondents to a new national survey say they’re torn between supporting full First Amendment rights for bloggers and favoring some limitations on bloggers’ content.
In the poll, commissioned by global Web-hosting and managed services provider Hostway, more than 50 percent of respondents who shared their opinions on First Amendment rights said bloggers should benefit from the same First Amendment liberties and protections as professional journalists. (Fifty-two percent agree, and 21 percent disagree.)
Participants also had strong opinions about various free speech rights of bloggers:
- Eighty percent believe bloggers should not have the right to publish home addresses and other personal information about private citizens.
- Seventy-two percent believe bloggers should not have the right to publish home addresses or other personal information about public figures (celebrities, sport figures, etc.).
- Sixty-eight percent believe bloggers should not have the right to publish home addresses or other personal information about appointed government officials (judges, mayors, etc.).
The survey data additionally suggests that young adults (under 30 years old) are more open to Internet bloggers’ free speech rights than older cohorts, regardless of their income or geographic locations: A larger percentage of young respondents are less disagreeable and more undecided (neither agree nor disagree) on First-Amendment-related issues.
Participants who believe bloggers should not have the same First Amendment rights as traditional journalists:
- Under 30: 10 percent
- Over 50: 26 percent
Participants who believe bloggers should not have the right to publish home addresses and other personal information about private citizens:
- Under 30: 62 percent
- Over 50: 85 percent
Participants who believe bloggers should not have the right to publish home addresses or other personal information about public figures (celebrities, sport figures, etc.):
- Under 30: 61 percent
- Over 50: 75 percent
Participants who believe bloggers should not have the right to publish home addresses or other personal information about appointed government officials (judges, mayors, etc.):
- Under 30: 60 percent
- Over 50: 70 percent
In addition to identifying attitudes about bloggers’ free speech rights, the survey found only a small percentage of the 2,500 respondents believe blogs are as credible as other sources in the mainstream media.
Survey data suggests that respondents look at blogs as a channel to obtain opinion-based information rather than as a fact-based news source. For example, of those who expressed an opinion, by a margin three-to-two, respondents said they find newspapers more credible than blog entries.
- Only 28 percent agree that blogs are as or more credible than newspaper articles.
- Almost 30 percent agree that blogs are as or more credible than television and radio news.
Even though blogs have not achieved the perceived legitimacy of print, television and radio news sources, they are making headway with credibility against a variety of advertising media:
- Almost 45 percent feel blogs are as or more credible than television commercials.
- Forty-five percent feel blogs are as or more credible than Internet advertising.
- Forty-one percent feel that blogs are as or more credible that radio advertising.
The Business of Blogs
"We're beginning to see blogs starting to take their place among other media for businesses to get their word out," said John Lee, vice president of marketing, Hostway. "They are easy to create, maintain and serve as valued portals of diverse, honest information."
In many cases, blogs serve as online journals that contain uncensored, unfiltered forms of commentary and opinions on various topics. From a business standpoint, blogs may be friend or foe, depending on the information that is revealed. About 60 percent of respondents to the Hostway survey agreed it is acceptable for a company to censor what appears on its blog and that bloggers should not be allowed to release proprietary information about a company/product. One out of four people believe companies should have the right to fire an employee based on information that person posts to a blog.
Overall, the survey found consumers are beginning to see the benefits of using blogs for product and service research - nearly one out of four survey respondents said they refer to blogs for information on the products and services they are looking to purchase. Within that percentage, a whopping 94 percent feel those blogs were helpful in their purchasing decision, which adds to the notion that blogs influence the consumer market.
"With the right strategy, blogs can be a huge asset to organizations large and small," said Lee. "They are cost-effective, attract a well-targeted audience and, in some cases, are able to put a human voice to a company."
Market research firm TNS conducted the survey for Hostway between March 24 and 28, questioning 2,500 adult consumers nationwide about their views on blogging.
Further statistical analysis conducted on unweighted data by Hostway suggests that opinions on bloggers' First Amendment rights and blog crediblity as a source of news and information are influenced by the respondent's age and direct exposure to blogs. However, Hostway's analysis also suggests that for some, exposure to blogs and positive credibility beliefs don't necessarily equate to agreeability with First Amendment rights for bloggers. For further information please visit, www.hostway.com/docs/survey/blog.html.
About Hostway Corporation
Hostway Corporation is a leader in Cloud, Managed, and Managed Hosting. Hostway delivers reliable, secure, and scalable Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions to over 600,000 customers worldwide. Hostway services its clients from more than 250,000 square feet of state-of-the-art data center space, spanning four continents and 12 countries. Hostway has emerged as one of the largest cloud hosting and Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers in the world due to the company’s expertise in developing secure, multi-tenant hosting environments and is committed to providing SMB's and large enterprises with cost effective business solutions. Hostway’s core products include Managed Hosting, Cloud Hosting, and Email and Applications.
Hostway Media Relations
Note To Editors
To obtain top-line survey results please visit www.hostway.com/docs/survey/blog.html
To speak with an executive at Hostway and to obtain more detailed findings, please contact Tina Janczura at 312.970.5841 or Tina.Janczura@slackbarshinger.com.
TNS is one of the world’s leading market information groups, providing market measurement, analysis and insight through its operating companies in 70 countries. Working with national and multi-national organizations, TNS helps its clients develop effective business strategies and enhance relationships with their customers. In July 2003, the group merged with NFO WorldGroup, Inc. For more information about TNS, please visit www.tns-global.com.