In connection with the deadly attack in Buffalo on Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office will investigate several social media companies and online platforms. According to James, among these platforms are the gaming platforms, Twitch and Discord, but the investigation will also target 4chan and 8.
Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old black man, killed 10 people and wounded three others in the attack on Saturday in Buffalo, New York. Gendron, a white man, was later discovered to be on several social media sites, including those under the Attorney General''s office.
Gendron went live on Twitch to stream the attack, but the livestream and his channel were not removed until after the attack, according to a Twitch spokesperson.
The threat of the online forums that spread and promote hate has once again been revealed, according to Attorney General Letitia James'' official announcement of the investigation. This 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. We are taking serious actions to investigate these companies for their roles in this attack. We continue to mourn and honor the lives that were stolen, but we are continuing to do everything we can to ensure it never happens
When James refers to the platforms as dangerous, it is equally unclear what this investigation may entail. There are no explicit details about the upcoming investigation, nor does it suggest that the investigations will focus on their moderation or reporting policies.
Polygon has reached out to the James office for additional information and will update this story with any suggestions.
According to sources, Gendron used several of these platforms at one time or another in planning his attack. In 2020, Gendron reportedly watched the livestreamed mosque shooting in New Zealand from 2019 (that attack was streamed on Facebook) and reported a 2019 shooting in Halle, Germany, which he later invited to read. In the months prior, Gendron had reportedly been involved in other Discord channels or organizations, including one where he posted a racial manifesto.
Twitch reported that it has a zero tolerance policy against unlawful acts of violence, and that it is diligently taking appropriate actions to respond to such incidents. The user has been permanently suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate measures, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content.
A Discord spokesperson told CNN that it had removed the server that Gendron used and its related information as soon as it was aware of it following the shooting. Our deepest condolences are with the victims and their families, according to the spokesperson. Violence and extremism have no place on Discord, and we are committed to combating violence and extremism.