The Anti-Defamation League is asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign a piece of legislation it says will help hold social media companies accountable for antisemitism and other forms of hate shared on their sites.
Despite opposition from large social media platforms, which insist they are already taking pains to make their platforms safe, Assembly Bill 587 passed both houses of the Legislature on Aug. 30 and headed to Newsom’s desk. It would require social media companies to publicly post their terms of service, which set boundaries around what behavior is permitted on their platforms, and report that information to the state attorney general. The companies say the measure would add a regulatory hurdle to their current efforts.
Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat from the Los Angeles area who chairs the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, introduced the bill.
“We believe that California has a special obligation and a special opportunity to lead on these issues,” Gabriel said during a news conference on Aug. 30, speaking of AB 587 and another bill that would regulate how social media products engage children. “We’re proud of our technology economy,” he said, “and we know that many of the companies that these bills would regulate are homegrown California companies. But with dysfunction in Washington, DC, we believe that California must step up and lead.”
According to a recent ADL report, 65 percent of individuals in marginalized groups — which included Jews, women and people of color — have experienced hate-based harassment online because of their identity. Among participants in the study, 68% of those harassed said at least some harassment happened on Facebook, 26% on Instagram and 23% on Twitter.
“If not now, when?” said Jeffrey Abrams, ADL Los Angeles regional director. “When will we be able to understand how pervasive this problem is? When will we hold big social media platforms accountable? When will we take action to protect our children? California has a chance to lead the way again. We are grateful to Assemblymember Gabriel for his leadership on this bill. Now, let’s get this thing passed.”