Press Release

ADL Applauds Introduction of Social Media Transparency Bill

Calif. legislation would require social media companies to publicly disclose corporate policies and key data and metrics on enforcement

New York, NY, March 30, 2021...ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) welcomed the introduction of legislation from California State Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel that would require social media platforms to publicly disclose their content moderation policies regarding online hate/racism, disinformation, extremism, harassment and foreign interference, as well as key metrics and data around the enforcement of their policies.

Assembly Bill 587, the Social Media Transparency and Accountability Act of 2021, seeks to address the ways in which social media foments hate speech, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and violent extremism that allows for the harassment and targeting of traditionally marginalized groups.

“Californians are becoming increasingly alarmed about the role of social media in promoting hate, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and extreme political polarization,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel. “It’s long past time for these companies to provide real transparency into their content moderation practices. The public and policymakers deserve to know when and how social media companies are amplifying certain voices and silencing others. This is an important first step in a broader effort to protect our democracy and better regulate social media platforms.”

While social media companies have taken some steps to rein in hate and harassment, their lack of transparency means that users and policymakers have no way to know if companies actually abide by and enforce their own policies. This bill would address the lack of transparency by requiring social media platforms to publicly disclose their corporate policies as well as provide biannual and quarterly filings with California’s attorney general on key data and metrics on the enforcement of their policies.

“This legislation would move us closer to holding social media companies accountable for the hate and harassment they allow on their platforms, particularly when that hate and harassment leads to violence,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “The reporting requirements outlined in the bill will put big tech’s conduct under a bright light, and it is our hope that social media companies would either respond by improving their corporate policies and the enforcement of those policies, or that the reporting requirements would provide enough evidence for legal action against them if real progress is not made.”

The bill is also supported by Common Sense Media, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Decode Democracy, and Accountable Tech.

“We are heartened to see lawmakers recognize what ADL and other organizations have found for so long: social media platforms must do more to stop online extremism, hate and harassment,” said Lauren Krapf, ADL National Policy Counsel. “Social media companies must be answerable to their users and to lawmakers. There is a real lack of transparency regarding the impact and efficacy of tech companies’ content moderation systems, and the nature and prevalence of online hate, extremism, disinformation, and harassment on platforms. There is a lot to do when it comes to tech reform—this is an important step forward.”