After Buffalo mass shooting, New York urges a nationwide crackdown on livestreamed carnage
- New York leaders are urging federal and state reforms after the Buffalo mass shooting.
- Gov. Kathy Hochul and AG Letitia James say it should be illegal to livestream homicides.
It should be a crime not only to commit homicide but also to livestream the carnage, New York officials said Tuesday in a report prompted by the May 14 mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket in which an avowed white supremacist is charged with killing 10 Black people while armed with an assault rifle and a GoPro camera.
There is currently no law on the books in New York or elsewhere criminalizing the act of livestreaming oneself committing a homicide. The report recommends all states make that a crime. It also urges Congress to make it easier to sue social media platforms that host the livestreams.
In the case of the Buffalo mass shooting, the alleged gunman had been radicalized by racist posts that ran rampant and uncensored on sites including 4chan, Reddit and 8chan, the report said. He is accused of keeping a private journal on Discord for months, planning the attack. Then Twitch streamed the first two slayings before cutting the feed.
Just before 2 p.m. on the day of the shooting, the gunman invited several users to a Discord chatroom, where he posted a document preaching white supremacist ideology and his stated goal of provoking future mass shootings, authorities allege.
Beginning at 2:08 p.m., the gunman began broadcasting a 24-minute live video using a GoPro video camera attached to his helmet, including when he "stepped out of his car and began shooting," Tuesday's report said.
The suspect in the shooting — identified as an 18-year-old white man wielding a Bushmaster assault rifle painted with racist slogans — remains charged with 13 counts of federal hate crimes.
Issued by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state's attorney general, Letitia James, Tuesday's report expands on the disturbing role that online platforms have played in spreading racist hate and violence, as reported by Insider and other news outlets.
"New York and other states should pass legislation imposing criminal liability for the creation, by the perpetrator or an accomplice, of images or videos depicting a homicide," James urged in the report.
Congress also needs to beef up The federal Communications Decency Act, the report said, so that platforms such as Twitch and Discord can be sued for failing to take reasonable steps to remove "video or images captured by or created by the perpetrator of a homicide depicting the homicide."
Twitch, the Amazon-owned video-streaming service stopped the Buffalo live-stream approximately two minutes after the first person was shot, the report said.
"But two minutes is still too much. Even this relatively short video is enough for the horrific content to spread widely and to inspire future shooters," it added.
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