Mayor Eric Adams called Thursday for a broader crackdown on hate speech spread across social media channels, both from the federal government and the companies who run the platforms, and for the elimination of plea bargains for those charged with hate crimes.
Hizzoner made the remarks on Dec. 1 to reporters on a conference call following a Mayors Summit Against Anti-Semitism he attended in Athens, Greece – the first stop on a four-day trip away from the five boroughs this week. The event was attended by 53 mayors from across 23 different countries, Adams said.
When it comes to hate speech on social media, Adams said, Washington lawmakers need to investigate how these platforms are radicalizing individuals and driving them to commit violent acts motivated by hate against certain groups of people. At the same time, he added, social media companies must use their algorithms to flag hate speech instead of helping spread it.
“Our federal lawmakers must take a higher role in how we look at social media, the impact it is making in radicalizing and coalescing people around hatred of all kinds, including anti semitism,” the mayor said.
“There are people who are on social media that are coalescing with those who want to continue to spread hate,” he added. “They are recruiting people who are in pain, [who] are dealing with anxieties, and using their pain and anxieties to carry out hate. We feel the social media industry must take a stronger role on dealing with hate.”
Adams said that he would like to convene the heads of social media giants – like Twitter and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram – to start conversations around how they can clamp down on the proliferation of hate on their sites.
Additionally, Adams claimed, those who are charged with hate crimes are often able to escape serving any time in prison because they’re able to plea the charge down to a lower level offense like harassment.
“Oftentimes in these cases, we allow individuals to plead down to harassment or some other lesser crime,” Adams said. “I believe we should not allow any plea bargaining at all in cases involving crimes that have stemmed from hate based on a person’s life, based on their religion, based on their ethnicity. Those are serious infractions that we should not be pleaing to a lesser charge.”
Adams attended the forum in the wake of local, state and federal law enforcement banding together to prevent what they characterized as an imminent violent threat against the Jewish community before the Thanksgiving holiday. The suspects arrested in the case were found to be carrying a loaded gun, hunting knife and a swastika embroidered armband.
Another idea the mayor walked away from the summit with, he said, is that the city must do more to foster strong relationships between the African American and Jewish communities amongst young people.
“In New York City, a large number of the anti-Semitic actions that we have witnessed and actions of hate has involved young people. And so we have an obligation to bring those young people together and start being creative and how we foster those relationships. And that is what I’ve heard from my mayor’s across the entire participant group in this workshop and seminar.”
‘Fact-finding’ Adams’ goal for World Cup stop
Following his stop in Athens, Adams will jet off to Qatar to observe the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which he described as a fact-finding mission to strengthen the Big Apple’s bid to host the games in 2026.
The stopover in Qatar is necessary, Adams said, so he can get an on-the-ground understanding of the security and transportation needs associated with the event, considering New York City could be its next host in four years.
“I have an obligation [with] an event this large, to make sure the city is safe,” he said. “I want to look at some of the security apparatus. I want to look at how they’re moving people about. I want to look at how they’re handling something of this magnitude. And that’s why I’m going.”