Mass shooters like the teen charged in the Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket attack don’t stop with planning out their brutal attacks. They also create marketing plans while arranging to livestream their massacres on social platforms in hopes of fomenting more violence, the Associated Press reports. The self-described white supremacist gunman who police say killed 10 people, all of them Black, at a Buffalo supermarket Saturday had mounted a GoPro camera to his helmet to stream his assault live on Twitch, the video game streaming platform used by a shooter in 2019 who killed two people at a synagogue in Halle, Germany. Experts are calling for a broader discussion about livestreams, including whether they should exist at all, since once such videos go online, they’re almost impossible to erase. The Buffalo shooter had outlined his plan in a detailed but rambling set of online diary entries that were apparently posted publicly ahead of the attack, although it’s not clear how may people might have seen them. His goal was to inspire copycats and spread his racist beliefs.
In 2019, the Christchurch, New Zealand shooting was streamed live on Facebook for 17 minutes and quickly spread to other platforms. This time, the platforms generally seemed to coordinate better, particularly by sharing digital “signatures” of the video that were used to detect and remove copies. Twitch has more than 2.5 million viewers at any given moment; roughly eight million content creators stream video on the platform each month, according to the company. The site uses a combination of user reports, algorithms and moderators to detect and remove any violence that occurs on the platform. The company said that it quickly removed the gunman’s stream, but hasn’t shared many details about what happened on Saturday — including whether the stream was reported or how many people watched the rampage live. Experts suggest that sites such as Twitch could exercise more control over who can livestream and when — for instance, by building in delays or whitelisting valid users while banning rules violators.