New York’s governor Kathy Hochul, along with state legislators, announced a broad gun control package. The bill will make New York the first state to ban body armor sales, and the main component of it would mandate licenses for semi-automatic rifles. It would require 21-years-olds to apply for the license, an increase from current federal laws that allow 18-year olds to purchase long guns.
Hochul said that New York already has some the strictest gun laws in the nation, and that they must be made even more strong. Working closely with Majority leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie as well as all our legislative partners, we will improve our gun laws to keep New Yorkers safe and give law enforcement the tools it needs to stop crime and spread dangerous weapons.
The bill, in addition to limiting gun sales, would also require social media platforms to create a policy that outlines how they will respond to hateful behavior on their platforms. It would also allow them to make it easy to report hateful acts. New York also proposes the establishment of a Task Force on Social Media, Violent Extremism at the Attorney General. This Task Force could investigate and examine the role played by social media companies in encouraging and supporting violent extremism as well as domestic terrorist acts online.
The Response to The Buffalo Mass Shooting
New York’s Attorney General Letitia Jacob has expressed concern about the reaction of the social network following the massacre that took place at Buffalo’s Groceries.
James said that “the terror attack at Buffalo has once more exposed the depths, danger, and potential for the online forums to spread hate,” he told reporters.
A manifesto was posted by the suspect on Google. Then, the killer live-streamed the shooting death of 10 others on Amazon’s Twitch. Although the stream was removed less than two minutes following the violence, the video was reproduced by other streaming websites. The video could even have been viewed three million times before being removed.
“The social media platforms have not done enough to remove the content. But, when the live stream is recorded, the video can be captured and shared elsewhere,” said Professor Jason Mollica from the American University’s school of communication in Washington, D.C.
Fighting Dangerous Content and Conduct
Social media platforms are being criticized for spreading misinformation and disinformation. It has been a difficult task to combat it. It will not be easy to address hateful and extremist behavior.
Mollica said, “We heard and saw what these platforms can do, and have shown that they can try to address it.” We’ve seen it time after time that the information will be out. There’s always a solution.
This is true even half-way around the globe in Ukraine where social media proved to be an invaluable digital resource for some of the conflict zone residents. Similar to the Arab Spring, social media was a crucial link of communication that allowed those who were involved in it ten years ago. Even though attempts were made to cut off communication, it was still possible to receive information.
New York might face similar difficulties.
Mollica explained that “It will still be difficult for a staff to attempt to monitor every post.” Mollica said, “You could create an office. But where is the funding? The ability to’restrict extremeism’ is available, as well as the possibility of taking down accounts. Although this will close a gap, it will not stop the flow of information. It is just the way social media works.
Mollica said that while the idea of New York State’s plans is admirable and necessary, she still doesn’t believe it will be successful. While it would be wonderful if each state had an equivalent task force, and that we formed a group to combat hateful content on social media, this will prove difficult.