NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James sent a series of letters to social media companies requesting they provide detailed explanations of the steps they are taking to stop the spread of hateful content encouraging violence against Jewish and Muslim people and institutions in the wake of terrorist attacks in Israel. The letters, sent to Google, Meta, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, Reddit, and Rumble, provide a list of questions for each platform to respond to regarding how they are specifically addressing calls for violence that have rapidly spread in the past week.
“In the wake of Hamas’ unspeakable atrocities, social media has been widely used by bad actors to spread horrific material, disseminate threats, and encourage violence,” said Attorney General James. “These platforms have a responsibility to keep their users safe and prohibit the spread of violent rhetoric that puts vulnerable groups in danger. I am calling on these companies to explain how they are addressing threats and how they will ensure that no online platform is used to further terrorist activities.”
After recent terrorist attacks in Israel, reports have identified antisemitic and Islamophobic threats spreading online, including an Anti-Defamation League report documenting a surge in antisemitic threats and conspiracies spreading on social media following the Hamas attacks. The letters from Attorney General James request that social media companies explain in detail how their content moderation policies and terms of service are being used to limit hate-based threats and reduce the likelihood that the platforms are used to plan acts of violence. The letters also ask the companies to explain:
- What actions, if any, they have taken to address the recent calls for violence against Jewish and Muslim people and institutions;
- What actions they have taken to address the possibility that their platforms may be used to plan, encourage, or disseminate acts of violence;
- The public-facing terms of service, community rules, or other policies in place that prohibit users from utilizing the platform to disseminate calls for violence;
- Details of internal policies that govern the determination of whether content is a call for violence that should be removed;
- Policies regarding disciplining, suspending, and/or banning users for posting content that has been removed for spreading calls for violence.
Attorney General James has consistently taken action to hold social media companies accountable and limit dangerous material from spreading online. This week, Attorney General James advanced legislation to protect children from addictive social media features that could introduce them to harmful content. In July, Attorney General James led a multistate coalition defending the federal government’s ability to communicate with social media companies about the spread of dangerous content on their platforms. In October of 2022, Attorney General James released a report on the role that social media platforms played in the Buffalo mass shooting and online extremism. In 2021, Attorney General James joined a multistate coalition investigating Meta for providing and promoting the social media platform Instagram to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms.
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