Assemblymember Lee & Senator Hoylman-Sigal Introduce ‘Stop Hiding Hate’ Bill to Hold Social Media Companies Accountable for Eliminating Harmful Content on Their Platforms

The ‘Stop Hiding Hate’ bill will address the dangerous spread of harmful content on social media by requiring social media companies to clearly and publicly report the ways they reduce hate on their platforms

Albany, NY – Assemblymember Grace Lee and State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal have introduced legislation in the New York State Assembly (A6789) and Senate (S00895) to hold social media companies accountable for eliminating harmful content on their platforms. The ‘Stop Hiding Hate’ bill will require these companies to make public reports that clearly demonstrate how they are moderating harmful content, including hate speech, threats, and disinformation.

Social media platforms are increasingly being used to spread hateful content, leading to violence and hate towards marginalized groups. In a 2022 study, up to 40% of social media users reported experiencing online harassment, with nearly two-thirds of this group experiencing harassment targeting an aspect of their identity[1]. The perpetrator of the 2021 shooting in Buffalo and the shooters in similar recent tragedies in Pittsburgh, Poway, El Paso, and Charleston were all motivated by hateful content they had seen on social media.

While social media companies have previously made commitments to moderate harmful content on their platforms, they have failed to provide evidence that they are doing so effectively. Currently, there are no external requirements in place for how these companies report information on their moderation of harmful content, and the information they do disclose is often inconsistent, misleading, and opaque.

Through this legislation, Assemblymember Lee and Senator Hoylman-Sigal will provide clear requirements to ensure social media companies are working to make their platforms safe for their users. This bill will require these companies to issue semi-annual reports to New York’s Attorney General that will make visible the measures they have taken to protect users from harmful content. These reports will ensure these companies are transparent and accountable to their users, and better equip the public to understand how hateful and dangerous rhetoric spreads online and how violence can be prevented before it happens.

“Social media is a tool that can strengthen our communities, but it is also a weapon that can tear them apart," said Assemblymember Grace Lee. “In New York and across the country, we are seeing a rise in hateful content being shared online that is leading to violence, with the worst effects being felt by marginalized and minority groups. Social media companies have a responsibility to prevent their platforms from being misused, but they have proven that they cannot be trusted to do this on their own. It is time for us to step in - the ‘Stop Hiding Hate’ bill will require these 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.”

"Social media platforms are too often used to divide communities and allow hate, disinformation and extremism to quickly spread,” said State Senator Hoylman-Sigal. “Social media companies are failing to meet their responsibility to ensure that their platforms do not advance disinformation and hate-fueled violence. That’s why, in partnership with the ADL, we introduced the Stop Hiding Hate bill (S00895) with Assemblymember Lee, which would require social media companies to publicly post their policies regarding hate speech, disinformation, harassment and extremism on their platforms, and report data on their enforcement of the policies."

“ADL welcomes this important legislation from Assemblymember Lee and Senator Hoylman-Sigal,” said Scott Richman, New York’s Regional Director for ADL New York/New Jersey. “New York has seen firsthand the tragic consequences of online hate spreading unchecked, notably in the tragic Buffalo attack just one year ago. This legislation is a needed first step to ensuring that platforms are documenting their policies and adequately addressing harmful content on their platforms.

[1] Online Hate and Harassment Survey 2022.