New York Cracks Down On Social Media To Silence Hate Speech

Citing rising cases of antisemitism and Islamophobia, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on November 13 that the state will increase staffing on the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force with a focus on collecting and investigating hate speech found online. New York has seen a significant increase in hate speech following the terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel on October 7.

“We have determined that the rising level of hate and antisemitism in particular poses a clear and present danger to the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “It’s painful to see the cruelty with which New Yorkers are treating each other. Everywhere from college campuses, to our streets, to schools, to playgrounds; even as they’re entering their houses of worship.”

The New York Police Department reports a rise in hate crimes since the attacks. In October, New York saw 101 hate crimes, of which 69 targeted Jewish residents. The total is more than double the number of incidents recorded in October 2022, and the crimes against Jews are more than three times higher.

The ramp-up of surveillance efforts aims to “counter some of the negativity” and make New Yorkers “feel safe,” according to Hochul. Hochul said Monday that the Social Media Analysis & Research Team (S.M.A.R.T.) is currently focusing on collecting data from social media users who post messages calling for violence and threats directed at individuals.

Unlike most forms of communication that require a warrant for law enforcement to monitor, social media is a free-for-all. Hochul did not specify any standards the unit will use in assessing threats. Instead, she said that officers will “contact” social media users the state believes are committing hate crimes.

The rise of antisemitic language largely comes from elite liberal colleges and might be driven by the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok which has been banned by various government organizations. Liberals on TikTok claim that Israel is an apartheid state which illegally occupies Palestine. A recent Harvard poll shows that 36% of liberals of all ages believe Hamas is justified in committing terrorism against Israel. The percentage of Hamas supporters climbs to an astonishing 51% among college-age liberals.

New York State saw more than 600 hate crimes last year. The New York Police Department reports that the number of investigations into hate crimes against Jews in October has jumped 214% over the same period in the previous year.