California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill taking aim at “disinformation” and “hate speech” on social media into law.
The bill, A.B. 587, had support from several far-left groups including Anti-Defamation League, Equality California, and the NAACP.
The new law will require social media companies to publicly post their policies regarding hate speech, disinformation, harassment, and extremism on their platforms, and report data on their enforcement of the policies.
The bill states that “a social media company that violates the provisions of this chapter shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) per violation per day, and may be enjoined in any court of competent jurisdiction.”
“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 Governor Newsom in a statement. “Californians deserve to know how these platforms are impacting our public discourse, and this action brings much-needed transparency and accountability to the policies that shape the social media content we consume every day. I thank Assemblymember Gabriel for championing this important measure to protect Californians from hate, harassment and lies spread online.”
The bill was introduced by Democrat Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel. According to a report from Ars Technica, the legislation was drafted as a “direct response to the January 6 attacks on the US Capitol and was designed to hold Big Tech companies like Meta accountable for ‘grossly inadequate’ self-policing of hate speech, disinformation, and conspiracy theories on social media platforms.”
Gabriel said in a statement that the bill will protect “kids and vulnerable communities online.”
“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,” said Assemblymember Gabriel. “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, as well as the role of social media in promoting hate speech, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and other dangerous content. I am grateful to Governor Newsom for signing this bill and for his leadership in protecting kids and vulnerable communities online.”