In the wake of the Buffalo shooting on May 14, many called social media outlets to task for their role in unintentionally aiding murder suspect Payton Gendron, who allegedly carried out the racist mass shooting. Twitch had to take down a livestream of the shooting, suspending an account that reportedly belonged to Gendron, and other reports suggested that Gendron used other platforms, such as Discord, to help plan and amplify his alleged plans.
Now, the New York attorney general’s office is investigating Twitch, Discord, and other sites that Gendron may have used in the months leading up to the attack. New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the investigations via her official Twitter account today.
“This terror attack again revealed the depths and dangers of these platforms that spread and promote hate without consequence,” James said. “We are doing everything in our power to stop this dangerous behavior now and ensure it never happens again.”
James’ proposed investigation would go beyond Twitch and Discord. Her office plans to include sites like 4chan and 8chan. Both websites are known havens for alt-right and white-supremacist factions. 4chan has even been linked in the past to groups that were partially responsible for the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Both Twitch and Discord released statements immediately following the Buffalo shooting. Twitch expanded on its original statement on May 16, saying that the platform is continually working to stop the spread of hateful and violent content online, including the stream attributed to Gendron. Discord issued a statement offering its condolences to victims and shock at what had happened on May 14, then eventually told CNN that Gendron created a private Discord server to plan the attack. About half an hour before the attack began, a “small group of people” were invited to the server.
The Discord posts in Gendron’s server included notes about how Gendron allegedly visited the Tops Friendly Market to survey its layout, studying when the grocery was busiest, and mentioning that the particular grocery market was chosen due to the high percentage of Black people who lived in the neighborhood around the store. Discord reportedly removed the server “as soon as” it became aware of its existence.
Attorney General James has experience with going after big names. The New York attorney general has filed several lawsuits against Donald Trump in the past, and her office’s report on former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo detailed a pattern of sexual harassment that led to the former governor’s resignation.