New Jersey launches investigation on social media platforms Discord and Twitch following Buffalo shooting
NEWARK – Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced that New Jersey has launched an investigation on social media platforms Discord and Twitch following the fatal mass shooting in Buffalo. The investigation aims to determine whether the platforms are violating national consumer protection laws by failing to moderate harmful content and enforce policies prohibiting violent extremism and hateful behavior.
The suspect in the May 14 attack allegedly used social media platforms to plan and publicize the mass shooting, which authorities say was a racially motivated hate crime. The investigation will examine whether lax content moderation and policy enforcement on the part of Discord and Twitch allow the platforms to serve as hubs for networking and building extremist and violent communities, and hotspots. entry point allowing children to come into contact with extremist ideologies.
“These social media platforms have enormous reach, especially among young people, and have proven to be carriers of hateful and extremist content that can radicalize children and others,” said Acting AG Platkin. “New Jersey has a substantial interest in investigating how these companies moderate and ban content that may harm consumers. Under New Jersey law, companies must keep their promises, and the persistence of extremism violent and hateful behavior on these platforms casts doubt on their purported content moderation and enforcement policies and practices.
“We will use our authority under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act to protect our residents,” said Cari Fais, acting director of the Consumer Affairs Division. “Companies cannot announce that they will do one thing and then do another. If these platforms claim to proactively moderate or ban violent extremism and hate, and then allow them to flourish unchecked with potentially dangerous or even deadly consequences, that is illegal.
The 18-year-old defendant in the attack, who is white, reportedly live-streamed the fatal shooting of 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood on Twitch, a popular streaming service with gamers. Prior to the attack, he reportedly detailed his filming plan on Discord, an online messaging platform where users can create invite-only chat groups.
Among other things, the investigation announced today focuses on the platforms’ content moderation practices and crackdowns on individuals who violate them. The survey also focuses on how these moderation policies are applied to minors and children under 13 who use the sites.
The mission of the Consumer Affairs Division, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public against fraud, deception, misrepresentation and malpractice in the sale of goods and services in the New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation, and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 business and professional councils which oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business Section which oversees 60,000 registered businesses in New Jersey, as well as through its Consumer Protection Bureau, Securities Bureau, Charities Registration Section, Weights and Measures Bureau, and Legalized Gambling Section.