AG Report Finds That "Fringe" Online Platforms "Played An Undeniable Role" In Radicalizing The Buffalo Shooting Suspect

The New York attorney general and governor called on state lawmakers to criminalize "graphic images or videos created by a perpetrator" and penalize anyone who reshares or reposts that content.

New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a scathing report Tuesday saying online platforms "played an undeniable role" in radicalizing the Buffalo shooting suspect, who killed 10 Black people at a grocery store in May, as he consumed "racist and violent content" that helped him plan the shooting and livestream the attack.

James said in a statement that unmoderated online platforms have become a breeding ground for white supremacy and called for these platforms to be "held accountable for allowing hateful and dangerous content" to be posted.

In the report, based on thousands of pages of documents subpoenaed by social media companies, James and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called on state lawmakers to criminalize "graphic images or videos created by a perpetrator" and penalize anyone who reshares or reposts those images or videos.

According to the report, the Buffalo shooting suspect used Discord, Reddit, and 4chan to prepare and plan the mass shooting that occurred at a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood on May 14. The alleged shooter used Twitch to livestream the attack. The livestream was only up for two minutes, according to the attorney general, but that was enough time for copies to be made and spread online.

"The Buffalo shooter was galvanized by his belief that others would be watching him commit violence in real-time," James and Hochul said in a press release. "Although the platform he used to livestream his atrocities disabled the livestream within two minutes of the onset of violence, two minutes is still too much."

According to the report, the attorney general found copies of the suspect's livestream, as well as his screed, on several social media platforms. According to the investigation, Meta automatically detected and removed roughly 1 million pieces of content related to the shooting across Facebook and Instagram. Investigators also found videos of the shooting 17 times on Reddit, seven on Instagram, and two on Twitter. They also found links to the rant on Reddit 19 times, 14 times on Rumble, five times on Facebook, three times on YouTube, and once each on TikTok and Twitter.

"The tragic shooting in Buffalo exposed the real dangers of unmoderated online platforms that have become breeding grounds for white supremacy," James said in a statement.

The Buffalo shooting suspect was charged with domestic terror and murder as a hate crime in June and indicted on one count of first-degree domestic terrorism motivated by hate, 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime, three counts of attempted murder as a hate crime, and one count of criminal possession of a weapon. He has pleaded not guilty.

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