New York AG launches social media investigation into Buffalo shooting

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The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday launched an investigation into various social media companies over their connection and surveillance of discussions that led to the horrific shooting in Buffalo on Saturday that killed 10 people and injured three.

Governor Kathy Hochul sent a referral to the Attorney General to investigate how 18-year-old gunman Payton Gendron used social media to spread white supremacist beliefs and exploit his fatal attack.

“Publicly available information suggests the alleged perpetrator was active on social media, particularly on sites used by white supremacists threatening violence,” Hochul wrote in his reference to the attorney general.

The Attorney General’s office immediately launched an investigation into the social media platforms Twitch, 4chan, 8chan and Discord, which the shooter used to broadcast, promote or plan his attack.

“The terrorist attack in Buffalo has once again exposed the depth and danger of online forums that spread and promote hate,” James said. “The fact that an individual could publish detailed plans to commit such an act of hate without consequence and then broadcast it for the world to see is chilling and unfathomable. As we continue to mourn and honor the lives that have been stolen, we are taking serious action to investigate these companies for their role in this attack. Time and time again, we have seen the real-world devastation caused by these dangerous and hateful platforms, and we are doing all that is in our power to shine the spotlight on this alarming behavior and take action to ensure it never happens again.

Gendron broadcast live video on his Twitch social media stream on Saturday, beginning with arriving at Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue, opening fire in the parking lot and inside the store.

A spokesperson for Amazon-owned Twitch said Saturday the shooter was streamed live, but there was no known information. video on demand. The feed was deleted less than two minutes after the violence began.

Gendron wrote a 180-page manifesto detailing his racist beliefs that motivated the killings and how social media sites exposed him to violent rhetoric and attacks, fueling his radicalization. The document has been widely circulated on various social media platforms since the tragedy on Saturday.

“The alleged perpetrator’s manifesto bore the hallmarks of similar writings by other violent white supremacists, including the El Paso and New Zealand killers, which circulated on platforms across the internet,” Hochul wrote in its reference. “We must respect individual First Amendment rights, but when individuals use online platforms to promote and plan violence, it raises questions about the role of social media platforms in promoting violence. answer.”

The state attorney general may investigate any matter of public peace, public safety, or public justice with the power to subpoena witnesses and produce documents under state executive law.

The governor announced the state’s investigation on social media platforms following Saturday’s violence during a news conference in New York on Wednesday afternoon. At the event, Hochul signed two executive orders to require police to issue an extreme risk protection order against people who pose a threat to themselves or others under the USA’s Red Flag Act. state and to impose stricter regulations for modified weapons.

Twitch teams are monitoring content on the service and will work with law enforcement if necessary, a Twitch spokesperson said Saturday.

“We are devastated to learn of the shooting that took place this afternoon in Buffalo, New York,” Twitch said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the community affected by this tragedy. Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against violence of any kind and is working quickly to respond to all incidents. The user has been suspended from our service indefinitely, and we are taking all appropriate measures, including monitoring any accounts reposting such content.”

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