NY Attorney General Letitia James opens investigation into social media companies after Buffalo shooting

The suspected gunman allegedly live-streamed his killing spree on Twitch

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New York Attorney General Letitia James has launched an investigation into social media companies following the Tops Supermarket mass murder. 

The move comes after 18-year-old Payton Gendron allegedly killed 10 Black people, and injured several others, at a grocery store in Buffalo over the weekend, Fox Business reports. Before the deadly attack, plans were outlined on the messaging platform Discord. On the day of the shooting, Gendron allegedly livestreamed the massacre on Twitch. 

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New York State Attorney General Letitia James (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

James said her investigation will focus on Twitch, Discord, and two social media sites, 4chan and 8chan, said to be hotbeds for extremism and anti-Black activity.

Gendron noted in his 180-page manifesto that his exposure to 4chan motivated him to target and kill Black people, New York Post reported.

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

“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,” James added. “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.”

A spokesperson for Twitch previously announced that the video was taken down almost immediately after the shooting began. 

Payton Gendron is led into the courtroom for a hearing at Erie County Court, in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, May 19, 2022. Gendron faces charges in the May 14 fatal shooting at a supermarket. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

“We are devastated to hear about the shooting that took place this afternoon in Buffalo, New York,” read a statement from Twitch in the aftermath of the racially motivated killing, per THR. “Our hearts go out to the community impacted by this tragedy. Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against violence of any kind and works swiftly to respond to all incidents. The user has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content.”

Discord will reportedly cooperate with James’ investigation.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families. Hate has no place on Discord and we are committed to combating violence and extremism,” a spokesperson for the company told FOX Business. “We are continuing to do everything we can to assist law enforcement and the investigation remains ongoing.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told ABC News on Sunday that the CEOs of social media companies have to take more responsibility.

“The CEOs of those companies need to be held accountable and assure all of us that they’re taking every step humanly possible to be able to monitor this information,” Hochul said. “How these depraved ideas are fermenting on social media, it’s spreading like a virus now.”

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