New York attorney general to probe social media companies’ role in Buffalo shooting

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is launching an investigation into the role social media companies played in connection with the deadly shooting in Buffalo, her office announced Wednesday.

The probe will focus on Twitch, 4chan, 8chan and Discord, but will not be limited to those platforms.

“The terror attack in Buffalo has once again revealed the depths and danger of the online forums that spread and promote hate. 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 in a statement.

“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,” she added.

The shooting at a grocery store left 10 people dead. President Biden, speaking in Buffalo on Tuesday, called it an act of domestic terrorism.

James’s investigation adds to the mounting scrutiny over how tech platforms moderate extremist content, and their failure to take quick action against live streams of deadly attacks like that in Buffalo.

Authorities said the suspected gunman, Payton Gendron, livestreamed the shooting on Twitch. The company said it pulled the stream down within two minutes of the violence starting, but advocacy groups have slammed the company for not taking quicker action.

Spokespeople for Twitch and 4chan did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the probe.

Gendron also wrote in detail of his plans to murder Black people in statements posted online, including on Discord, The Washington Post reported.

A Discord spokesperson told The Hill in a statement the company will cooperate with the New York attorney general’s investigation.

In an extended statement released Tuesday about the shooting, a Discord spokesperson said the company is assisting law enforcement during the investigation.

“What we know at this time is that a private, invite-only server was created by the suspect to serve as a personal diary chat log. Approximately 30 minutes prior to the attack, however, a small group of people were invited to and joined the server. Before that, our records indicate no other people saw the diary chat log in this private server,” the spokesperson said.

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