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New York State releases report detailing role of social media platforms in Buffalo mass shooting

The report details the influence of platforms as well as the monitoring of platforms to allow extremist and hateful views to proliferate.

BUFFALO, NY — The results of a review of the role of social media platforms in the mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson in Buffalo were released Tuesday.

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Kathy Hochul published the resultswhich detailed the influence of the platforms as well as the monitoring of the platforms to allow extremist and hateful views to proliferate.

“The tragic Buffalo shooting exposed the real dangers of unmoderated online platforms that have become fertile ground for white supremacy,” James said.

“Today I met with the families of the victims to share the findings of this report. This report is further proof that online radicalization and extremism pose a serious threat to our communities, especially communities of color. We’ve seen this happen in Christchurch, Charlottesville, El Paso and Buffalo, and we can’t wait for another tragedy before we act. Online platforms should be held accountable for allowing the dissemination of hateful and dangerous content on their platforms. Extremist content is flourishing online, and we all need to work together to address this crisis and protect our children and our communities. »

The Attorney General’s Office under Hochul’s direction reviewed thousands of pages of documents and content to see how the accused gunman used social media to plan and publicize his attack. Internal and external content, as well as the policies of several online platforms were also reviewed as part of the process.

“For too long, hatred and division have spilled over online platforms — and as we’ve seen in my hometown of Buffalo, the consequences are devastating,” Hochul said.

“Following the horrific white supremacist shootings this year, I issued a referral asking the Attorney General’s Office to investigate the role played by online platforms in this massacre. This report offers a chilling account of the factors that contributed to this incident and, most importantly, a roadmap to greater accountability.

The accused shooter used numerous social media platforms including 4chan, 8kun, Reddit, Discord, Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Rumble. The review found that fringe online platforms radicalized the accused shooter and that live streaming platforms like Twitch were used to share his actions and encourage mimicked violence.

Following the review, James and Hochul call for federal and state reforms to address extremism and violence. Proposed state legislation would criminalize graphic photos and videos created by a murderer and also penalize people who re-share those images.

The AG and the governor also called for changes to Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act that would increase the accountability of social media and online platforms to prevent the sharing of violent criminal content on their platforms.

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