New York, May 18, 2022 – In a strong condemnation of the racially-motivated shooting in Buffalo, members of the American Jewish Congress Advisory Board to Counter Domestic Terrorism and White Supremacy extend support for Governor Kathy Hochul’s call to hold social media company CEOs accountable for hosting and proliferating hate speech and calls for violence.
A video live-streamed by the attacker was circulated online and gained over 3 million views before the American Jewish Congress successfully worked to remove the video on Streamable, bringing the role of social media platforms in perpetuating violence to the forefront. Prior to the attack, the shooter also posted a manifesto online which outlined specific plans for racially-motivated attack and was wrought with racist and antisemitic hate speech.
“These beliefs are antithetical to the very essence of what America stands for,” writes Carnegie Endowment Senior Fellow and Advisory Board Member Aaron David Miller. “We believe they have no place in the nation’s politics or its media platforms.“
“Social media companies have a responsibility to stop the spread of hate speech and terrorist content on their platforms and we praise Governor Hochul for her leadership on this front,” says American Jewish Congress President and Advisory Board Co-Chairman Jack Rosen. “We urge the leaders of these institutions to uphold the integrity of free speech, while simultaneously ensuring that violent and radicalizing materials do not proliferate. It is fully possible to uphold the First Amendment while mitigating unprotected speech that provokes racially-motivated violence.”
Writes former Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and Advisory Board member Tonio Burgos: “We are horrified by this ugly and seemingly-endless slew of racially motivated attacks, especially as they reflect the real consequences of hate speech proliferated online. Every time we witness violence in our most cherished community spaces — places of worship, schools, stores, and concert venues — we are reminded of our collective responsibility to develop the programs and resources required to fight this madness. Holding accountable the platforms which host and proliferate white supremacist hate speech online is a critical first step. We support Governor Hochul, Mayor Byron Brown, the Erie County Sheriff, and their teams as they provide leadership during this difficult time and stand ready to join the healing process in Buffalo.“
Advisory Board to Counter Domestic Terrorism and White Supremacy
In June 2021, the American Jewish Congress launched an Advisory Board to Counter Domestic Terrorism and White Supremacy. This Board advises the organization on its efforts to combat these threats to the Jewish community and the United States. The Board is comprised of a bipartisan set of eminent leaders spanning national security, law enforcement, counter terrorism, foreign policy, legal, and civil rights expertise. It seeks to combat white supremacist and domestic terrorist activity by identifying the social and technological accelerants that drive extremism while also recommending government policies to counter these trends.