Twitch and Discord are under investigation in New York following Buffalo attack

Twitch and Discord are among a group of social media companies under investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James following the heinous shooting that occurred in Buffalo on May 14.

Attorney General James says the 18-year-old suspected of claiming 10 lives at a Buffalo supermarket may have used social media to “to discuss and amplify his intentions and acts,” and is thus launching an investigation that focuses specifically on Twitch, Discord, 4chan, and 8chan, and what role they might’ve played in the attack, which police are calling a hate crime (opens in new tab).

“The terror attack in Buffalo has once again revealed the depths and danger of the online forums that spread and promote hate,” said Attorney General James. “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. 

“As we continue to mourn and honor the lives that were stolen, we are taking serious action to investigate these companies for their roles in this attack. 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.”

In a press release (opens in new tab), the Attorney General cites reports claiming the alleged shooter had been posting online about his hatred for specific groups and sharing white supremacist theories for months leading up to the shooting. It’s also been reported that he discussed plans online about potentially attacking an elementary school, church, and other places in predominantly Black communities. The attacker streamed his acts publicly on social media and shared a 180-page manifesto online laying out clearly laying out his hateful views.

New York Governor Katherine Hochul has been critical (opens in new tab) of social media CEOs in the wake of the attack and was the one to formally request (opens in new tab) that the Attorney General investigate the companies named and establish whether they bear “civil or criminal liability for their role in promoting, facilitating, or providing a platform to plan and promote violence.”

“We need to respect individual First Amendment rights, but when individuals use online platforms to promote and plan violence, it raises questions about the role of social media platforms in the promotion of the violence. These questions need to be answered,” Hochul wrote.

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