Boston Herald | Tribune News Service | May 16, 2022
Citing the vile online manifesto attributed to the Buffalo shooter, Gov. Hochul on Sunday urged social media companies to crack down on hate speech — calling the sites “instruments of evil.”
“I’m calling on the CEOs of all the social media platforms to examine their policies and to be able to look me in the eye and tell me that everything is being done that they can to make sure that this information is not spread,” she told CNN’s “State of the Union,” speaking a day after 18-year-old Payton Gendron, who is white, killed 10 in an attack targeting Black people.
“They have to identify when information like this — the second it hits the platform, it needs to be taken down, because this is spreading like wildfire. These theories that result in the radicalization of a young person sitting in their house is deeply scary, and it’s something that has to be dealt with,” added Hochul, a Democrat.
Prior to the attack, Gendron apparently posted a 180-page screed saying he chose the site of his attack because it had the largest Black community that was close to him. Among his racist ravings, he cited the so-called “replacement theory” popular on the far right. The doctrine holds that people of color are replacing whites, with help from elites.
Calling the theory “truly disgusting,” Hochul said leaders from both parties need to denounce it and make sure proponents “crawl back into their holes and stay there.”
Speaking at True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo, Hochul addressed her message “to the instruments of this evil, the social media platforms that allow this hatred to ferment and spread like a virus.”
“I want to silence those voices now and make sure, that yes, people will talk about Buffalo, but I want them to talk about Buffalo as the last place this ever happened,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) appeared to second the call for a social media crackdown.
“We must address the disturbing reality … that the internet and social media enable purveyors of evil to spread their wicked words to poison the minds of others,” he said in a video address to True Bethel Baptist Church.
“Law enforcement has assured me they’ll use every investigative tool to track down and identify racial hatred and hate crimes that have motivated this reprehensible crime,” he added.
Lawmakers have struggled to handle the explosion of hate speech in recent years on both mainstream websites and in the dark corners of the internet.
On Sunday, Schumer spoke with FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate, who noted Google and Facebook are proficient in detecting hate speech, according to a source with knowledge of their call. But Abbate said sites like Discord, which Gendron reportedly used to plan the attack, and 4chan, where his manifesto was shared, are not as diligent, according to the source.
Attorney General Tish James echoed Hochul’s Saturday remarks calling the attack “domestic terrorism.”
“These were acts of hate and it should be prosecuted as such and the full strength of the United State of America should be behind these cases and I am confident that they will prosecute this individual to the full extent of the law,” said the Democratic prosecutor.
“He was fed each and every day a steady diet of hate,” James added, “and for that he should be held accountable but we as a people need to come together.”