April 16, 2024

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Buffalo shooting: NY probes ‘bone-chilling’ social media role

The top prosecutor in New York state has begun an investigation into the involvement of social media firms in the mass shooting in Buffalo on Saturday.

The attorney general’s office said the investigation will look into how social media platforms were “used to stream, advertise, or plan the event.”

Digital corporations, according to the state’s governor, are partly responsible for the attack.

Critics claim that the firms took too long to remove the alleged shooter’s violent posts.

“The terror attack in Buffalo has once again highlighted the depth and danger of online forums that transmit and promote hate,” Attorney General Letitia James said in announcing the inquiry on Wednesday.

The white suspect is accused of posting a manifesto on Google and live streaming the deadly shooting of ten people at a grocery store in a mostly black neighbourhood on Twitch, an Amazon brand.

“It’s terrifying and incomprehensible that someone can broadcast explicit plans to commit such a hate crime without consequence and then stream it for all to see,” Ms James said.

Twitch reported the stream was pulled down less than two minutes after the violence started, but it was replicated on other streaming platforms.

For more than 10 hours, Facebook did not remove a link to the pirated movie, by which time it had been shared over 46,000 times. Before being pulled down, a copy that had been uploaded elsewhere had been seen over three million times.

The probe will also look into the internet communities 4chan, 8chan, and Discord, where the gunman allegedly posted about his plans, according to Ms James.

The probe was launched by Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, who also directed the New York State Police to form a squad dedicated to monitoring social media for extremist threats.

She’s also pushing for stronger gun legislation in the state legislature. Before the attack, Republicans in the state legislature lambasted her for not doing enough to avoid mass shootings.

The US Department of Justice is investigating the attack as a hate crime.