In 2016, then 14-year-old Jordan Peisner was standing with friends outside a local fast food restaurant when he was suddenly and viciously assaulted by another teen he did not know. During the attack and while Jordan lay helpless on the ground, witnesses and friends of the perpetrator stood and filmed the assault on their phones and then quickly uploaded their videos to social media. Now, this horrifying footage lives forever on social media already having been viewed by hundreds of thousands.
While Jordan slowly recovered from his severe, ultimately lifelong, injuries, his father Ed Peisner resolved to make sure that no other child or family had to endure such an ordeal. So, Ed began meeting with local legislators to explore solutions and eventually partnered with Marc Berkman, a senior staffer with the California State Assembly.
Together, they learned that what we now call social media-motivated violence, attacks committed for the purpose of being filmed and distributed on social media to gain internet notoriety, were doubling every year since the birth of major social media in 2006. To stop this sickening trend, Marc ultimately drafted Jordan’s Law, the nation’s first state law to deter social media-motivated violence. And, with Ed’s fierce advocacy, Jordan’s Law was signed into law in California within only a year of its introduction.
Dangers on social media
But, Ed and Marc were not finished. In the process of advocating for Jordan’s Law, they had immersed themselves in the world of social media and had become painfully aware of the long and rapidly expanding list of social media-related dangers, like cyberbullying, hate speech, sexual harassment, and propaganda. These threats were real; they were severe; and, they affected millions across the world.
Organization for Social Media Safety is born
Ed and Marc saw a very urgent need for an organization that had the vision, capacity, and capability to fight back against these dangers, an organization that recognized that while social media may be here to stay, it could actually become safe with the right interventions. That is why they founded the Organization for Social Media Safety.