Buffalo Massacre Report Urges Consequences for Violent Content

A new report on the racially-motivated killings in Buffalo allegedly by a Conklin teen is prompting a call for new internet regulations.

Two top New York state officials are calling on federal lawmakers to outlaw the creation of videos of homicides, citing the viral spread across the internet of footage allegedly live-streamed by a Conklin teen as he killed Black shoppers and workers during a racist mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket in May. 

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Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Kathy Hochul, both Democrats, recommended state legislation that would both criminalize graphic images or videos created by a killer and create “significant” civil penalties for online platforms that don’t take “reasonable steps” to stop such recordings from being circulated. 

The recommendations are contained in a report examining the role of online platforms in the May 14 attack at a Tops Friendly Market in which 10 people died. 

The report by James’ office found that the most widely-shared video of the shooting began rocketing around the Internet within minutes of being uploaded to an obscure file-sharing site by one person in Washington state, who then shared a link. The link and video continued to spread for several days, including on Twitter and other mainstream sites, despite efforts by some social media services to take them down. 

Nevertheless, the platforms cannot legally be held liable “given the present state of the law,” the report concluded. 

19-year-old Payton Gendron is charged with killing 10 people and wounding three others in the mass shooting. He detailed his plans and white supremacist views in a private diary on the chat platform Discord, which he made public shortly before the attack began. 

The shooter live-streamed the attack to the gaming platform Twitch, which is owned by Amazon. Twitch removed the video in less than two minutes. But a small number of the roughly 28 people who tuned in for part of his broadcast circulated recordings. 

The shooter wrote in his online diary that he was inspired, in part, by violent videos and writings accessible across various platforms, especially by a video clip he saw on 4chan of the mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. 

“By his own account, the Buffalo shooter’s path towards becoming a white supremacist terrorist began with that clip,” the report said. 

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