Social Media Platforms and the Buffalo Shooting

On May 14, a shooter attacked a supermarket in a historically Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and wounding three. The streaming platform Twitch quickly disabled the livestream the shooter had published of the attack—but video of the violence, and copies of the white supremacist manifesto released by the attacker online, continue to circulate on the internet. 

How should we evaluate the response of social media platforms to the tragedy in Buffalo? This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Brian Fishman, who formerly worked at Facebook, now Meta, as the policy director for counterterrorism and dangerous organizations. Brian helped lead Facebook’s response to the 2019 Christchurch shooting, another act of far-right violence livestreamed online. He walked us through how platforms respond to crises like these, why it’s so difficult to remove material like the Buffalo video and manifesto from the internet, and what it would look like for platforms to do better.

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