April 14, 2021
Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel
California State Capitol P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94293
Re: AB 587 (Gabriel) Social Media Transparency – Support
Dear Assemblymember Gabriel,
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), is proud to support AB 587 which would require social media platforms to publicly disclose their corporate policies regarding online hate/racism, disinformation, extremism, and harassment, as well as key metrics and data around the enforcement of those policies.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition is a 35 year old nonprofit 501(c)(3) civil rights organization that was founded to eliminate hate, discrimination, and racism towards the Latino community. We educate and increase visibility of Latinx from Washington D.C. to Hollywood and around the world. NHMC is deeply devoted to eliminating hate online, and holding social media and video sharing platforms accountable for the role they play in enabling white supremacy. We work in collaboration with other civil rights organizations to safeguard democracy in the United States of America.
In recent years, there has been growing concern around the role of social media in promoting hate speech, disinformation, conspiracy theories, violent extremism, and severe political polarization. Twitter, along with other social media platforms, has been implicated as a venue for hate groups to safely grow . A recent study of Twitter posts from 100 U.S. cities found that the greater proportion of tweets related to race- and ethnicity-based discrimination in a given city, the more hate crimes were occurring in that city. Robert Bowers, accused of murdering 11 elderly worshipers at a Pennsylvania synagogue in 2018, had been active on Gab , a Twitter-like site used by white supremacists. Most recently, investigations have shown that the violent riots at the Capitol in early January of this year were abetted and encouraged by posts on social media sites.
Despite the widespread nature of these concerns, efforts by social media companies to self-police such content have been widely criticized as opaque, arbitrary, biased, and inadequate. While some platforms share limited information about their efforts, the current lack of transparency has exacerbated concerns about the intent, enforcement, and impact of corporate policies, and deprived policymakers and the general public of critical data and metrics regarding the scope and scale of online hate and disinformation. Additional transparency is needed to allow consumers to make informed choices about the impact of these products (including on their children) and so that researchers, civil society leaders, and policymakers can determine the best means to address this growing threat to our democracy.
AB 587 would address this troubling lack of transparency by requiring social media platforms to publicly disclose their corporate policies and report key data and metrics around the enforcement of their policies. This disclosure would be accomplished through biannual and quarterly public filings with the Attorney General.
For these reasons, NHMC supports this bill.
Yours in the Movement,
Brenda Victoria Castillo
President & CEO