Governor Kathy Hochul demanded on Sunday that social media companies crack down on hate speech and those who incite violence on the online platforms in the wake of Saturday’s Buffalo mass shooting that killed 10 people and injured three more.
The suspected gunman, who allegedly went on a racist shooting spree targeting Black shoppers at a supermarket in the Western New York city, livestreamed his horrific act on the website Twitch, according to the AP.
The 18-year-old accused murderer reportedly frequented sites filled with white supremacist and racist conspiracy theories, and posted a 180-page manifesto online in the lead up to the deadly attack over the weekend.
“We must do something about this,” Hochul said Sunday during a visit to True Bethel Baptist Church, a Black house of worship near where the shooting happened the day before. “We will not just call it out, but I’m saying to the instruments of this evil, the social media platforms that allow this hatred to ferment and spread like a virus — it’s spreading around the world as we speak.”
Hochul said the owners of tech firms must do more to take down hate speech or content that incites violence as quickly as possible.
“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 told ABC News.
Hochul added later on Sunday that she wants to sit down with companies to find better ways to monitor online bigotry.
“I want them to sit in a room, look me in the eye and tell me, have you done everything humanly possible to make sure that you are monitoring this content the second it hits your platform. And if you’re not, I’m gonna hold you responsible,” the governor told reporters during a briefing with local law enforcement in Buffalo. “They have a lot of resources, so don’t tell me you can’t afford this.”
“I assure you when I get back in Albany, their phones will ring,” she added.
Twitch reportedly ended the suspect’s broadcast “less than two minutes after the violence started,” but the company did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
At the True Bethel Baptist Church Sunday, Hochul joined several New York politicians in condemning the attack.
“Lord, forgive the anger in my heart but channel that into my passion to continue to fight to protect people, get the guns off the streets, and silence the voices of hatred and racism and white supremacy all over the internet,” she said at the True Bethel Baptist Church.
State Attorney General Letitia James called it an act of terror.
“This was domestic terrorism, plain and simple,” said James. “This were acts of hate, and it should be prosecuted as such, and the full strength of the United States of America should be behind these cases, and I’m confident that they will prosecute this individual to the fullest extent of the law.”
Mayor Eric Adams said he will work to curb gun violence, in a social media post Saturday evening.
“We pray for our neighbors in Buffalo tonight. And we will both pray and work to end the scourge of gun violence and hatred that has terrorized our country,” Adams wrote on Twitter.
We pray for our neighbors in Buffalo tonight. And we will both pray and work to end the scourge of gun violence and hatred that has terrorized our country. https://t.co/hbZ0608rpe
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) May 14, 2022
NYPD officials said they don’t believe there to be a threat in the Five Boroughs stemming from the mass shooting, but the Department directed their resources to churches in communities of color.
“While we assess there is no threat to New York City stemming from this incident, out of an abundance of caution, we have shifted counterterrorism and patrol resources to give special attention to a number of locations and areas including major houses of worship in communities of color,” said NYPD spokesperson Sergeant Brendan Ryan in a statement.