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NYC Mayor Adams Appears Live On WABC 7’s “Eyewitness News Morning @ 10”

Mayor Eric Adams: Over the past decade, we have seen just how addictive and overwhelming the online world can be: exposing children to content they are not ready for, disrupting the educational process and seriously damaging their self-esteem and wellbeing, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube. 

As we announced last month in the State of the City address, we must take action to protect our children from harm online, including the growing dangers presented by social media.

[Video ends.]

Lauren Glassberg: That action coming now in the form of a lawsuit. New York City suing social media companies. You just heard it from the mayor there. This is about mental health. Social media companies say that they have been making changes to keep young people safe, but what more can be done and what demands does the city have for those online giants.

Sam Champion: Joining us now is Mayor Eric Adams. Mayor Adams, are you with us? It’s Sam, Lauren and Mike. How are you, sir? We love it when you come on the show. So, thank you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you so much.

Champion: I think that most people will share your concern. And when I hear lawsuit, I think time for talking is done, I want action. So, tell me what you want them to do.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. And that’s so important. And we want to be clear. It is not about content, it’s about conduct. And the conduct of using this new terminology that has been introduced to our lives called algorithms. These are usage on how you pull people into these dark corners on our social media platform and particularly, with our children under the age of 14 where their brains are developing, their characters have been developed. We have witnessed, over the years, that social media has really been irresponsible in the conduct of approaching our children and pulling them into this dark place.

Glassberg: You know, the senate just had hearings at the end of January on this exact issue and they just haven’t done anything in terms of crafting a law to scale or to control the kinds of social media algorithms that you’re talking about. So, why does it fall to the City of New York to do that?

Mayor Adams: Well, this is the largest municipality in the country that’s doing a lawsuit of this coordinated effort. There has been smaller lawsuits over the country, and even the AG has participated in a lawsuit of this nature.

We know that if we don’t leave from the front, being the City of New York with the largest…one of the largest school systems in our country and we’re seeing the impact of our children and how social media applications and platforms are actually impacting their cognitive ability, their ability to be focused, how it’s being used as a tool to display antisocial behaviors such as riding on top of trains, fights in our schools, all of these things that parents are concerned about and we’re concerned about as a city.

Mike Marza: We’ll follow it closely, mayor. Thank you for that. But while we have you here, we want to ask you about a couple of other issues facing the city, including the migrant crisis. I know you’ve been vocal about this calling this a national crisis, which is true when you look at what some of the other cities are dealing with, which we can understand why you classified it as a national crisis.

However, New York City remains a sanctuary city. So, knowing everything you know right now, dealing with this crisis, as the head of this city, should New York City continue to be a sanctuary city?

Mayor Adams: Yes, we should. This is a city of immigrants, and we have a rich history going back to the time of Mayor Koch on putting in place the first executive order dealing with sanctuary cities. And that is not what I’m talking about, the concept of a sanctuary city, which allow those who are immigrants who come here, that they’re not turned over to ICE.

Where the problem lies for me and what I want to continue to have a conversation on are those who commit serious violent acts in our city. I don’t believe they should be allowed to remain in our city. Your repeated offender of violent actions, as it currently stands, the New York City Police Department and city agencies cannot coordinate with ICE when you’re dealing with individuals such as that.

That is the problem area of being a sanctuary city. Sanctuary city should be those who want to pursue the American Dream, not who wants to disrupt it with violence as some have done.

Glassberg: We saw an example of that violence in Times Square actually on New York City police officers, members of the NYPD. But when we talk about violence in the city, and I know there are stats that can show there’s an uptick in felony assaults or that’s strictly on transit.

We know the numbers, but there is still the feeling among New Yorkers and tourists that it’s still not safe enough in the city. So, what can you do? And I know this is not necessarily a migrant issue even though that Times Square issue was related to migrants.

Mayor Adams: And no, it’s not. The overwhelming number of migrants and asylum seekers here are trying to pursue the American dream, which all of our ancestors have attempted to pursue.

We’re still the safest big city in America, and we need to be clear on that. But I agree with you 100 percent. I said this from day one of taking office. It is not only about statistically how well we’re doing, but it’s how well people are feeling.

We’re still having record numbers of tourists, 62 million last year. We’re still seeing crime going down in the city. But my overall desire is to continue to drive down how people are feeling. We must feel safe in our city, or we have defeated the whole purpose. And the New York City Police Department is doing an amazing job of doing so and we’re going to continue to do that.

Glassberg: So, more officers out there or how do you make people feel that?

Mayor Adams: Great question. Visibility. We call it omnipresence in policing. We have really shifted the police presence. We moved our offices in a transit system to 12-hour tours, which allowed them a greater deal of time to be on the trains and to walk the platforms.

We have to go back to the days that I remember as a child where you actually saw that beat officer where they were actually engaging, moving through the system. Nothing brings us more comfort than when you’re sitting on that train late at night or even early in the day and you see that police officer walking through the train. That uniform is the omnipresence that we want to believe, and we think it can turn around the feeling that people are having as we actually drive down crime.

Glassberg: I understand. I understand when that officer pokes his head into the subway car.

Champion: Yeah, it does.

Glassberg: I do like that.

Champion: It’s true.

Glassberg: So, I get that.

Champion: And on the corner, we understand it as well and we’ve all been here for a long time to remember those times.

Mayor Adams, thank you for coming on to talk about it. These are important conversations that we have out loud with our city folks just so we can all understand that things have to be adjusted in this town. We have to look at them importantly. So, thank you for coming on to do it.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Take care.

Champion: You, too, mayor.

Glassberg: Thanks, mayor.

Marza: Thank you. By the way, dealing with the social media lawsuits that have now been filed from the city, we do have to add that these companies have responded to Google Spokesperson calling the allegations not true, adding that providing young people with a safe experience has always been core to their work.

Meta, TikTok and Snapchat, all saying they’ve been working to keep young people safe and supported online and will continue to tackle industry-wide challenges. Stay tuned. 

February 15, 2024 Manhattan New York

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