November 21, 2023
Albany, NY

Following Significant Uptick in Anti-Muslim and Antisemitic Rhetoric on Social Media, Governor Hochul Deploys New Resources to Combat Online Hate

Following Significant Uptick in Anti-Muslim and Antisemitic Rhetoric on Social Media, Governor Hochul Deploys New Resources to Combat Online Hate

Data Tracked by New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Shows 425 Percent Increase in Online Hate Speech Against Jewish Communities and 417 Percent Increase Against Muslim Communities

Governor Deploys $3 Million to Expand State’s Successful Threat Assessment and Management Team Model to All College Campuses; Builds on State Efforts to Combat Extremist Violence Launched in the Wake of White Supremacist Mass Shooting in Buffalo

Governor Directs Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to develop a Media Literacy Tool Kit for K-12 Schools to Provide Critical Training and Resources to Youth; State Creates Informational Guide For Parents to Talk to Their Children About Online Hate Speech this Holiday Weekend

Following Viral TikTok Content Praising Osama Bin Laden, Governor Calls on Social Media Corporate Leadership to Implement Stronger Anti-Hate Guardrails for Users

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Governor Kathy Hochul today deployed new resources to continue combating the ongoing rise in online hate speech across New York. Governor Hochul announced $3 million would be allocated to expand the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Domestic Terrorism Prevention Unit’s Threat Assessment and Management training to all colleges and universities in New York State. The Governor also directed the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to develop and distribute a media literacy toolkit to help public school educators teach their students how to spot misinformation/disinformation/malinformation (“MDM”) online, sent a letter to major social media companies calling for increased monitoring of content that could incite violence, and released an informational guide for parents to help start conversations around the destructive impacts of hate and hate speech with young adults upon their returns home during the holiday season. These actions follow a 400 percent increase in nationwide antisemitic and Islamophobic threats online since the beginning of October and the continued spread of hate speech in online spaces.

“The rising tide of hate is putting all New Yorkers at risk - and as Governor, I'm committed to tackling this crisis head-on,” Governor Hochul said. “We're deploying physical security resources, expanding our Threat Management and Assessment teams, calling for stronger action from social media companies, and encouraging families and communities to come together to fight hate. New York has always been a beacon of hope, tolerance and inclusivity, and we will be defined by how we come together to condemn hate in all forms."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/7A9EhUqUrwM

With a new $3 million investment in the DHSES’ Domestic Terrorism Prevention Unit’s (DTPU) the State will expand its Threat Assessment and Management (TAM) training and support to all colleges and universities statewide.

The DTPU will conduct training for New York State colleges and universities; educate school administrators, professors, and staff on how to develop and maintain TAM teams; and provide constant training to supported entities. DHSES will also help connect existing networks that are currently operational within the SUNY and CUNY systems and ensure information sharing between these new college and university TAM efforts and the county-led multidisciplinary TAM teams being established across the state since the May 2022 domestic terror attack in Buffalo, New York.

Under this effort, these new TAM Teams would:

  • Use multidisciplinary teams of trained professionals to assess risk and create management plans for individuals on the pathway to violence;
  • Recognize concerning behaviors and define appropriate escalation protocols;
  • Establish a centralized reporting mechanism to receive reports of concerning behaviors from students and other bystanders; and
  • Educate administrative staff and professors on risk factors and warning signs to identify concerning behaviors early before an escalation to violence.

Recent international events have had direct impacts here in New York, including the Israel-Hamas conflict and the War in Ukraine. Each have led to a surge in the on-line spread of misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation. MDM has been used by foreign adversaries and domestic extremists to sow divisions among New Yorkers and reduce community cohesion, as well as cause anxiety, fear, and confusion. With the prevalence of MDM, and an increasing percentage of young people receiving their news and information through online sources, its important students are prepared to think critically about the sources of information they engage with and how to interpret it.

As part of the new media literacy program, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) will partner with education experts in media literacy to develop and distribute an age-appropriate, ideologically neutral toolkit on media literacy for students in primary and secondary schools throughout New York. This proven approach to understanding information will develop students’ ability to analyze, evaluate, and assess all forms of media including information delivered through social media. Utilizing various age-dependent trainings, this media literacy toolkit will encourage critical thinking and create a better understanding of how media systems work and the many equities that may be in play when someone chooses to distribute information online.

The holidays are also a time to reflect on the importance of family and what it means to be part of a community as unique and diverse as New York. As the holidays approach, the Governor is calling on New York families to discuss the importance of inclusivity, pluralism, and rejecting bigotry. With so many college and university students returning home for Thanksgiving, New York has produced an informational guide for parents to help start conversations around the destructive impacts of hate and hate speech.

New York has always been a beacon of hope, tolerance and inclusivity, and we will be defined by how we come together to condemn hate in all forms."

Governor Kathy Hochul

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “There has been a disturbing rise in online hate, especially when it comes to antisemitic, Islamophobic and anti-Arab threats. Now more than ever, its critical young adults have the tools they need to be able to critically analyze what they see online and help prevent the further spread of hateful rhetoric.”

Councilmember and Chair of the Committee on Education Rita Joseph said, “Governor Kathy Hochul's decision to address the alarming surge in online hate speech demonstrates a commitment to fostering a safe and inclusive environment for all New Yorkers, especially our students. As Chair of the Education Committee in the New York City Council, I commend Governor Hochul for directing resources toward the development of a media literacy toolkit for K-12 schools, which will equip our educators with the tools to empower students against misinformation. The $3 million investment to expand threat assessment and management training to college campuses further underscores the state's dedication to combating hate. In a world increasingly shaped by digital interactions, this will not only address the immediate challenge of online hate but also lay the foundation for a more resilient, informed, and united future for our youth.”

Councilmember and Chair of the Committee on Technology Jennifer Gutierrez said, “Technology provides unlimited potential for community connections, growth, and opportunity, but it can also enable dangerous misinformation and hate speech that have significant real-world consequences. I applaud Governor Hochul for her investments in media literacy and recognizing the importance of educating students of all ages on safely navigating the internet."

These new initiatives build on the extensive work already underway in New York to address the spread of hate and extremist violence.

In the immediate aftermath of May 2022’s racist mass shooting in Buffalo, Governor Hochul signed Executive Order 18 which required each county and New York City develop Domestic Terrorism Prevention Plans; and created the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Unit within DHSES, to support the creation of local Threat Assessment and Management – or TAM – teams. These multi-disciplinary teams bring together law enforcement, mental health professionals, school officials, and other community stakeholders to identify, assess, and manage threats of targeted violence.

Since the launch of this effort, 36 of the 58 counties outside of New York City have established TAM teams. Sixteen of the 36 teams are already meeting and hearing cases, while the remaining 20 are meeting and expected to begin hearing cases in the near future. All counties in New York have expressed their intent to create a TAM team. Prior to Governor Hochul’s Executive Order 18, there were only three county-based TAM teams statewide, which were supported through grants from DHSES.

In the last quarter alone, TAM teams held 53 meetings and reviewed dozens of cases that were referred by variety of community stakeholders:

  • 94 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by law enforcement. 67 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by an educational partner. 53 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by a mental health partner; and 27 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by social services.

Other key stakeholders, such as public health professionals, religious and culture institutions, and private sector entities, also reported cases to TAM teams.

In November 2023, Governor Hochul has activated law enforcement to keep New Yorkers safe by mobilizing the State Police to increase protection. This included $50 million made available to law enforcement to expand the use of the red flag law and $25 million in security.

Governor Hochul Deploys New Resources to Combat Online Hate

About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) provides leadership, coordination, and support to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate disasters and other emergencies. For more information, follow @NYSDHSES on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly known as Twitter) or visit dhses.ny.gov.

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