AG James grills social media giants over hate speech following Israel attacks

October 16, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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New York Attorney General Letitia James is putting social media companies on the spot, asking for clear explanations on how they are addressing the spread of hate speech and calls for violence. 

James sent letters to six major platforms, among them Google, Meta and TikTok, in response to an uptick in antisemitic and Islamophobic content after recent terrorist attacks in Israel.

“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.”

The letters to the social media companies come on the heels of reports highlighting a surge in hate speech online. The Anti-Defamation League found a significant increase in antisemitic threats following the attacks by Hamas. 

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James is requesting detailed information on how each platform is handling the issue, including actions taken to prevent their platforms from being used to plan or disseminate violence. 

The attorney general’s latest inquiry falls in line with prior actions to limit the risks posed by social media, such as her initiatives to protect children from addictive features and scrutinizing Meta for the health impacts of Instagram on young users. 

James expects answers that will shed light on the companies’ content moderation policies, how they identify calls for violence, and what penalties are in place for users who violate these rules.


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