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Special Report: Do Social Media Companies Promote Violence?

New York Attorney General launches investigation into social media companies for their role in connection with the mass shooting in Buffalo.
Special Report: Do Social Media Companies Promote Violence?

New York Attorney General Letitia James is launching an investigation into social media companies in connection with the Buffalo mass shooting. Axios reports that the investigation will look into social media companies and other online resources that the alleged shooter might have used to discuss — and amplify — his intentions to carry out the attack that killed 10 and wounded three.

The investigations will focus on ​platforms — such as Twitch, 4chan, 8chan and Discord — that may have been used to stream, promote or plan the attack. "The terror attack in Buffalo has once again revealed the depths and danger of the online forums that spread and promote hate," James said in a statement.

New York AG opens investigation on social media companies after Buffalo shooting (Axios)

Excerpt from Axios: The alleged shooter posted footage from the attack in real-time to Twitch, the live-streaming platform owned by Amazon that often features live videos of video gaming. Twitch told the New York Times on Sunday it managed to take down the live stream within two minutes after it started. However, videos of the shooting have been viewed millions of times, in part because it remains easy to re-upload copies of videos to multiple platforms.
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"Time and time again, we have seen the real-world devastation that is borne of these dangerous and hateful platforms, and we are doing everything in our power to shine a spotlight on this alarming behavior and take action to ensure it never happens again," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

According to NPR, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul requested the investigation and wrote to the state's prosecutors that the Buffalo massacre "raises questions about the role of social media platforms in the promotion of violence. These questions need to be answered."

New York attorney general launches probe of Twitch and Discord after Buffalo shooting (NPR)

Excerpt from NPR: "The fact that an individual can post detailed plans to commit such an act of hate without consequence, and then stream it for the world to see is bone-chilling and unfathomable," James said. "As we continue to mourn and honor the lives that were stolen, we are taking serious action to investigate these companies for their roles in this attack."
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In a related story, also from Axios, the man arrested in conjunction with the shooting said knowing he could broadcast his attack was part of his impetus. "Live streaming this attack gives me some motivation in the way that I know that some people will be cheering for me," the shooter said during his racist video rant during the attack, per the Washington Post and New York Times.

Live streaming motivated the Buffalo shooter (Axios)

Excerpt from Axios: Authorities are investigating the mass shooting by an 18-year-old white man as a hate crime and a case of "racially motivated violent extremism." The shooter wore a camera during the attack and posted the footage in real time to Twitch. Tech platforms said they were quick to identify the video as a violation of their policies and removed it shortly thereafter, but copies of the video still circulated online for hours after the live stream ended. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul criticized the various social media platforms for both inspiring the shooter and allowing the videos of the attack to circulate.
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