Do elite cues explain partisan policy preferences for online content moderation?

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Why do Republicans and Democrats in the United States disagree about what type of content, including disinformation and hate speech, should be regulated online? Current explanations for partisan disagreement about disinformation regulation focus on the role of motivated reasoning, internalized preferences (such as moral values), or fact gaps—differences in perceptions about what is untrue—between political partisans. Yet, little, if any, work has been done that seeks to understand the impact of in-group elite, partisan cues on preferences for online speech regulation. This experimental study aims to add to our understanding of whether elite cues cause heterogeneity in partisan policy preferences. Through an experiment showing respondents false tweets by prominent elites aligned with their own or the opposing party, my findings will shed light on the mechanisms driving public attitude formation. Further, my results will provide insight into pathways to resolve disagreements about content moderation, which is relevant for policymakers, social media companies, and other entities interested in protecting online freedom of expression.