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New York Attorney General Letitia James Demands Censorship of Speech Regarding Israel-Hamas Conflict

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New York’s state attorney general, Letitia James, has learned nothing after the state was sued for its “anti- hate” law that was an affront to free speech and the First Amendment.

James is demanding social media companies shed light and provide clarification on their actions regarding “hate speech” and calls for violence posted on their platforms.

James has dispatched letters to a host of tech giants including Google and Meta, along with others such as X, TikTok, Reddit, and neutral video platform Rumble. The letters contain probing questions on their handling of calls for violence that have become rampant across their platforms recently.

We obtained a copy of the letters for you here.

The pro-censorship AG seeks to understand the platforms’ strategy about content moderation policies and how these are applied to mitigate the propagation of alleged hate-filled threats.

James wrote: “In the wake of Hamas’ unspeakable atrocities, social media has been widely used by bad actors to spread horrific material, disseminate threats, and encourage violence. These platforms have a responsibility to keep their users safe and prohibit the spread of violent rhetoric that puts vulnerable groups in danger.”

Analyzing this through a lens of censorship and free speech becomes all the more critical now. This is not merely a question of inflammatory content but also concerns the elasticity of these platforms’ policies, which could potentially threaten the core tenets of free speech.

It forces one to question what might be classified as “hate speech” under these policies and what could potentially be deemed a permissible expression of personal beliefs.

James has called on these companies to explain their tactics for combating such threats and their plans to ensure online platforms are not misused for promoting terror activities, concluding: “I am calling on these companies to explain how they are addressing threats, and how they will ensure that no online platform is used to further terrorist activities.”

FIRE, who is already part of a lawsuit against James for a previous New York censorship law that has been accused of violating the First Amendment, wrote to James and requested that she retract her letter.

FIRE, writing in its capacity as counsel for neutral video platform Rumble, demanded the “immediate and unequivocal retraction of [James’] October 12, 2023 investigation letters to six internet platforms, including Rumble.”

In the letter seen by Reclaim The Net, FIRE’s attorneys say James’ demand letters “violate (1) a federal district court’s injunction against the enforcement of New York General Business Law § 394-ccc (the Online Hate Speech Law); (2) the active stay of all proceedings in that case as to Rumble; and (3) the First Amendment rights of the Investigated Platforms and their users.”

“By requiring citizens to police each other’s speech, New York threatens expression protected by the First Amendment,” wrote FIRE senior attorney Jay Diaz. “Would a video created by a pro-Israeli activist calling for bombing Gaza qualify as a ‘call for violence’? Is a news report including a quotation from a protestor defending Hamas attacks on the Israeli military equal to inciting violence? The attorney general’s vague letter fails to address these vital questions.”

James has until the end of the day today to respond.

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

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