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New York City Mayor Eric Adams just classified social media as an “environmental” threat, a move that seems more driven by fear of free speech and information access rather than by genuine concern for public health.
This action isn’t fundamentally about social media; it’s an effort by Adams to deflect from his own legal issues and policy missteps. It also happens that social media is a conduit for citizens to express their concerns or discontent about government policies, which some Democrats seem too keen to want to limit.
The mayor’s Social Media Advisory cites alarming statistics between 2011 and 2021, such as a 42% increase in hopelessness among NYC high schoolers. However, these figures not only fail to directly correlate to social media use, but it’s clear Adams isn’t following “the science.”
In reality, the root causes of this despair seem to lie in the city’s own backyard: a failing school system, rampant crime, increasing homelessness and overall mismanagement. Notably, a staggering 1 out of 9 city students are in shelters, indicating deep-seated issues beyond the scope of social media.
But the advisory’s disingenuous failures continue. The phrase “environmental toxin” used by Adams is a misnomer. Unlike genuine environmental toxins, research shows that social media is not inherently harmful. In fact, organizations like the American Psychological Association acknowledge social media’s mental health benefits.
Social media, much like television, can be beneficial within certain parameters, and it is primarily the role of parents or guardians to set those boundaries for their children, not the government or Adams.
While the advisory includes practical suggestions for parents and teens, such as creating social media use plans and encouraging parental involvement, it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Buried at the end of the advisory is the real goal – calls for unconstitutional restrictions on social media that will limit our access and expand government control over free speech.
And rest assured, this will be applied to much more than just the ability of citizens to use social media – we can expect New York’s government to begin deciding what content is and is not “safe” to read and say.
It’s crucial to recognize that this isn’t a mere overreach; it’s a direct threat to the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment.
The founders of our nation understood the importance of free speech and a free press as cornerstones of a democratic society. But actions like this undermine these principles and pave the way for authoritarian-like censorship.
The unfortunate irony is that while Adams aims to protect youth from the supposed harms of social media, he is simultaneously depriving them of the critical ability to engage with diverse viewpoints – a skill essential in a thriving democracy.
The solution to digital concerns is not more regulation but empowering individuals and parents through efforts like NetChoice’s SHIELD (Secure, Hold, Invest, Empower, Launch, Develop). SHIELD advocates for personal responsibility and freedom, emphasizing the right of Americans to choose what they view, read and believe.
SHIELD also emphasizes that the government must do its job and give law enforcement the resources to put child abusers behind bars. While Adams throws stones at social media platforms, he ignores the fact that these businesses report millions of instances of child abuse to the government.
But law enforcement only has the capacity to investigate a mere 1% of those reports. This means that 99% of reports of child abuse are being unanswered – an unacceptable number.
The mayor should not shift the conversation from his administration’s failures. He must try and fix them. It’s time for New York City’s government to address the real issues facing the Big Apple, such as crime, educational shortcomings and homelessness. That is how Adams can uplift and improve the environment for New Yorkers.