Online hate under scrutiny after Buffalo shooter broadcast massacre on Twitch | Buffalo shooting
The Buffalo shooting drew attention to the role of Twitch, the gaming platform used by the shooter to live-stream the massacre, amid renewed calls for stricter regulation of social media platforms.
Twitch allows creators, many of whom have millions of subscribers, to stream while playing video games, chatting with fans, or simply going about their daily lives.
The Buffalo suspect, an avowed white supremacist who allegedly shot and killed 11 black and two white victims, killing 10 people, in what authorities said was a racially motivated hate crime, used a Twitch channel to livestream the assault from a helmet camera.
Amazon-owned Twitch said it deleted the video within two minutes of the violence starting, but by then it had already been shared elsewhere, including on Facebook and Twitter. In a statement to The New York Times, Angela Hession, vice president of trust and safety at Twitch, said the site’s reaction was a “very strong response time given the challenges of moderating content in direct, and shows good progress”.
The fragmentary nature of modern social media platforms has added to moderation difficulties. As news of the shooting went viral on TikTok, the platform’s moderators fought to remove uploads of the images – but were much less successful in removing videos that directed viewers to Twitter accounts where they could watch the shooting live. entire.
The role of livestreaming is only part of the question. The shooter broadcast his intentions in advance – including preparing a to-do list on the Discord chat platform – which meant some of his followers were ready to download the video as it aired.
Initial repeat downloads appeared to be from supporters; however, within hours the bulk of the shares came from users seeking to satisfy the curiosity of others online – a similar pattern to that seen after the Christchurch shootings in 2019, which was first broadcast live on Facebook before being distributed on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook itself. That live stream, however, lasted 17 minutes before Facebook moderators deleted it — a response time almost 10 times slower than Twitch’s.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul told ABC television on Sunday that social media companies must be held accountable for violent racist views circulating online. The Buffalo forward posted a 180-page manifesto online before the shooting that focused on the racist ‘replacement theory’, a conspiracy theory that says white people are systematically replaced by non-white people.
Hochul said tech companies “must be held accountable and assure all of us that they are taking every step humanly possible to be able to monitor this information.” She added: “How these depraved ideas are fermenting on social media – it’s spreading like a virus now.”
The Online Safety Bill and the Digital Services Act, pieces of legislation introduced in the UK and EU respectively, target online criminal activity, but in the US progress is slower . Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 exempts platforms from liability for content posted by others, although President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump have supported its overhaul, although for different reasons. But the First Amendment to the US Constitution makes it unlikely that platforms will ever face significant liability for hosting racist content.