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Lawmakers push for more transparency from social media companies

Source: KRON 4 News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Some state lawmakers want social media companies to be more transparent about the information pushed out on their platforms.

This comes in response to recent mass shootings and other forms of violence lawmakers say were fueled by hate online.

“Social media platforms are enabling the spread of hate, racism, extremism and violence,” Assembly Member Jesse Gabriel, D-Woodland Hills, said.

Gabriel is the author of Assembly Bill 587. The bill would require social media companies to provide quarterly reports to the state attorney general on their content moderation policies and data on enforcement action relating to hate speech, racism, disinformation, extremism and threats of violence.

“If somebody puts up a post, it goes viral, gets a ton of interaction, a ton of eyeballs and you’re monetizing that and you leave it up there for two weeks, have you really helped us,” Gabriel said.

Every year the Anti-Defamation League publishes survey results on hate and harassment online. The group released the latest numbers on Tuesday.

 “Sixty-five percent of those in marginalized groups including Jews, women, people of color have experienced hate-based harassment online because of their identity,” Jeffrey I. Abrams, with the ADL, said.

The bill has been stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee for about a year.

Opponents of the measure include the California Chamber of Commerce and TechNet.

In their last letter to the committee, the groups wrote that bad actors could exploit the content moderation policies and the reporting requirement would be burdensome.

Authors of the bill said it has bipartisan support and are aiming to send it to the governor’s desk in a matter of weeks.

“We love tech. These are homegrown technologies in the state of California. But it is our public obligation as lawmakers to ensure we have a safe environment for everyone,” Assembly Member Evan Low, D-Silicon Valley, said. 

The bill’s next hearing is scheduled for June 28.