California (Sept. 23, 2022) — A ground-breaking California law will provide greater transparency about the role of social media platforms in amplifying extreme or dangerous content and promoting political polarization.
“With social media, the world is more connected than ever before, and our access to news, information and content is limitless,” noted Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord). “It is important, however, that we don’t allow this tool of connection to become a tool of harm. I supported AB 587 in hopes that it is a step toward fairly regulating social media platforms while protecting free speech and our democracy.”
Authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), the law requires social media platforms to file semi-annual reports with the California attorney general – publicly disclosing content moderation policies regarding hate speech, disinformation, extremism, harassment and foreign political interference. The sites must also report key metrics and data regarding how and when they enforce those policies.
According to Gabriel, the law will enable consumers and policymakers to more easily determine whether platforms are removing extreme and dangerous content – or instead amplifying it in pursuit of greater user engagement and profitability.
Threats to our kids
“Social media has created incredible opportunities, but also real and proximate threats to our kids, to vulnerable communities and to American democracy as we know it,” Gabriel said. “This new law will finally pull back the curtain and require tech companies to provide meaningful transparency into how they are shaping our public discourse and addressing hate speech, disinformation, and dangerous conspiracy theories.”
With this law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2024, California leads the world with the most stringent transparency measures for Big Tech.
“California will not stand by as social media is weaponized to spread hate and disinformation that threaten our communities and foundational values as a country,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed the bill on Sept. 13.
AB 587 was introduced in 2021 following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, but it stalled after fierce opposition from social media companies and their trade associations. Gabriel said the bill secured bipartisan support due to an intense grassroots lobbying effort by more than 80 civil rights and civic groups.