If New York State's Governor and Attorney General get their way, sharing certain types of videos will be criminal. NY Attorney General Letitia James released a report that Governor Hochul had requested regarding the mass shooting on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo on May 14, 2022.
Extremist content is flourishing online, and we must all work together to confront this crisis and protect our children and communities. ~ Gov. Hochul
The Office of the Attorney General reviewed thousands of pages of documents and social media content to study how Payton S. Gendron used online platforms to plan, prepare, and publicize his violent, racially-motivated attack, which killed 10 people.
The report concludes that fringe online platforms, like 4chan, radicalized the shooter; livestreaming platforms, like Twitch, were weaponized to publicize and encourage copycat violent attacks; and a lack of oversight, transparency, and accountability of these platforms allowed hateful and extremist views to proliferate online, leading to radicalization and violence.
The Governor and Attorney General's recommendation to stop violent perpetrators from utilizing these types of platforms is for federal and state lawmakers to criminalize the sharing of violent videos. The two New York State leaders are calling on federal and state legislators to create laws that would make it criminal to repost or share graphic images or videos created by the perpetrator of a homicide.
New York should explore establishing civil liability for anyone who transmits or distributes such images or videos beyond the perpetrator. In concert with appropriate revisions to Section 230, this liability would extend to online platforms, including social media and livestreaming platforms, that do not take reasonable steps to prevent such content from appearing.
The online platforms that the Buffalo mass shooter used to document, share, and promote the horrific incident were 4chan, 8kun, Reddit, Discord, Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Rumble.
The report's main findings are:
- Fringe Platforms Fuel Radicalization
- Livestreaming Has Become a Tool for Mass Shooters
- Mainstream Platforms’ Moderation Policies Are Inconsistent and Opaque
- Online Platforms Lack Accountability