New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, has introduced an “educational resource kit” focused on media literacy. The aim is to instruct children on countering online hate and misinformation. Governor Hochul emphasizes the perceived crisis of hate speech, stating that it poses a threat to all New Yorkers.
She specifically pointed to concerns about increased hate crimes during the Israel-Hamas conflict, affecting Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities.
“The rising tide of hate is putting all New Yorkers at risk – and as Governor, I’m committed to tackling this crisis head-on,” Hochul said, according to a press release issued last Tuesday.
“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.”
Governor Hochul’s initiative includes dedicating $3 million to extend the reach of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Domestic Terrorism Prevention Unit’s Threat Assessment and Management to higher education institutions throughout New York State. Additionally, the governor has directed the agency to create a “media literacy toolkit” tailored for children. This toolkit provides guidance to parents and schools on educating students in grades K-12 to identify and address misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation (MDM) online.
“This will teach students and even teachers to help understand how to spot conspiracy theories and misinformation, disinformation, and online hate,” she said.
“Start talking about what we’re seeing out there.
“Give the teachers the tools they need to help these conversations in school.
“By teaching younger New Yorkers about how to discern between digital fact and digital fiction, we can better inoculate them from hatred and the spread of it and help prepare them for a very fast-moving and often confusing world…”
In unveiling these initiatives, Governor Hochul expressed the aim of social media anti-hate teams to enhance the safety of the digital realm. These teams are tasked with identifying instances of hate at the source and taking proactive measures to prevent crimes before they occur.
“Let me be clear,” she continued.
“These teams are working to identify violent threats.
“They’re not looking at your Instagram sunset post or your tweets about your favorite football team and they’re not here to penalize anyone for their political views.
“They have a simple goal to find out what’s driving hateful behavior and intervene early before harm is done…”
This initiative aligns with measures in other states that are focused on addressing the spread of “misinformation” online. A recent law in New Jersey mandates the inclusion of media literacy education in all grades, aiming to equip students with the skills to identify and counter “disinformation.” However, this law has faced criticism from parents and residents in the Garden State.
One top expert warned that the government “should not be involved in what is misinformation and what is not.”
“It’s beyond subjective and will be weaponized for political power,” he added.
In a recent report, USA Today highlighted that schools in California are now mandated to include media literacy in their curriculum to enhance students’ ability to identify “fake news.” Governor Hochul has also written a letter to the CEOs of major social media platforms, such as TikTok, X, and Meta, urging them to implement measures to “mitigate the disturbing hate circulating on their platforms.” This action follows TikTok’s dissemination of an Osama Bin Laden letter justifying the 9/11 attacks, a move that Governor Hochul criticized.