After a shooter in Buffalo, New York, killed 10 people May 14 while livestreaming the attack online, the video has spread on Facebook along with his white supremacist manifesto.
The shooting mimics the 2019 massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, where the shooter livestreamed himself murdering 51 people in two mosques. Both shooters wrote racist manifestos that highlight the “great replacement” conspiracy theory. The Christchurch shooter’s video became viral and spread on social media. This is now repeating despite Facebook’s pledge to crack down on violent, extremist videos.
Videos of mass shootings only further the agenda of white supremacists who are seeking to spread their message. Mark Follman, the author of Trigger Points: Inside the Mission to Stop Mass Shootings in America, wrote in Mother Jones that videos of mass shootings that spread on social media “exacerbate this harrowing form of gun violence.” He added, “Extensive case research shows that mass shooters often seek sensational attention, including through the spread of their written screeds, images they post of themselves posing with weapons, and grim real-time content they create.”
Yet Facebook is still providing a platform for these videos to spread. Screenshots of one Facebook video circulated on Twitter, and Media Matters has identified several further examples of the video spreading on Facebook. We are not going to include specific examples or links in this piece, so as not to draw unwanted attention to them.
The platform may well eventually remove these videos; the problem is how slow it has been in doing so. As Hasan Piker points out, Facebook’s slowness in moderating the mass shooting video stands in stark contrast to Twitch’s quick response. We joined many others in sounding the alarm in 2019 about how tech platforms were slow to react to video of the Christchurch shooting. It’s clear that Facebook has still not learned its lesson.