LETTER: ISO AB 587 (Gabriel) Social Media Transparency

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