ADL, Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, And AM Grace Lee Demand Social Media Companies Stop Hiding Hate

May 30, 2023

Today, ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assembly Member Grace Lee called for passage of the “Stop Hiding Hate Act” (S895/A06789).

Which will require large social media companies to be transparent and accountable for policies and moderation practices for online hatred. The legislation is modeled after a similar law in effect in California.

State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal said: “With white supremacy, antisemitism, anti-LGBTQ hatred and anti-AAPI violence on the rise, social media companies must ensure that their platforms don’t advance disinformation and hate-fueled violence. The current social media landscape makes it easy for bad actors to promote false claims, hate and dangerous conspiracies online, too often leading to violence like January 6 or the racist massacre in Buffalo. Our ‘Stop Hiding Hate’ Act with Assembly Member Lee will require social media companies to report their moderation policies to the NYS Attorney General for public inspection to help boost accountability, and transparency and create a safer social media environment.”

“Minority communities are the most heavily impacted by this and the Asian American community has experienced the largest rise in severe online hate and harassment year-over-year compared to other groups.

Assembly Member Grace Lee said: “By favoring and promoting the most attention-grabbing posts, social media companies are creating an environment where hate and disinformation can spread like wildfire. Minority communities are the most heavily impacted by this and the Asian American community has experienced the largest rise in severe online hate and harassment year-over-year compared to other groups. Social media companies have a responsibility to protect users from this hate, but they haven’t done their job. The ‘Stop Hiding Hate Act’ will require social media companies to be transparent about the steps they are taking to eliminate hate on their platforms, and it will hold them accountable to the public. If we are serious about stopping hate, we must be serious about passing this bill during this year’s session.”

Scott Richman, ADL NY/NJ Regional Director, said: “We are proud to support the Stop Hiding Hate Act introduced by Senator Hoylman-Sigal and Assemblymember Lee. Greater transparency allows us to better protect all users from online hate and harassment. We look forward to seeing New York become the second state to act on this urgent need.” 

Many tech companies have little to no external oversight, and it is clear that we cannot rely on social media companies to consistently self-regulate. The racist mass murderer in Buffalo live streamed his attack on the social media platform Twitch, a video service owned by Amazon, and published his racist manifesto on his social media accounts. Social media companies played a major role in fueling the 2020 election fraud claims, which are still contributing to civil unrest, and helped lead to the January 6 insurrection. Hate on social media is not isolated to extremist groups: in 2022, ADL found that 40 percent of users experienced online harassment, nearly two-thirds of which was identity-based harassment.

Everyone from our parents to the White House is calling for social media companies to be more transparent. ADL found that 75 percent of parents feel it is important for tech companies to share accurate information about the hate speech and harassment taking place on their platforms. California already passed a similar bill into law, and the White House’s recently released strategy to counter antisemitism includes language mirroring New York’s legislation: “We call on Congress to impose much stronger transparency requirements on online platforms, including their algorithmic recommendation systems, content moderation decisions, and enforcement of community standards.”

The Senate Internet & Technology Committee advanced the bill 6-1 on May 2, and the Senate Rules Committee advanced it 18-3 on May 22. It is currently in the Assembly Consumer Affairs & Protection Committee.

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