March 25, 2024

Buffalo Massacre: New York Judge Rules Reddit And YouTube Must Face Lawsuits Over Role In Radicalization

Reddit And YouTube

New York judge has ruled that Reddit and YouTube must confront lawsuits accusing them of contributing to the radicalization of an 18-year-old who perpetrated a racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. 

The Platforms’ Part In The Racial Attack

The tragic incident, which resulted in the loss of 10 Black lives in 2022, has raised concerns about the role of social media algorithms in potentially encouraging extremism.

Everytown Law, a gun control advocacy group, filed the lawsuits on behalf of 25 survivors of the massacre last year.

The decision by Erie County Supreme Court Justice Paula Feroleto challenges tech giants’ traditional defenses under the Communications Decency Act and the First Amendment. 

“They may yet establish that their platforms are not products or that the negligent design features plaintiffs have alleged are not part of their platforms,” she wrote.

“However, at this stage of the litigation, the Court must base its ruling on the allegations of the complaint and not ‘facts’ asserted by the defendants in their briefs or during oral argument, and those allegations allege viable causes of action under a products liability theory.”

Further Concerns About YouTube And Reddit 

Everytown’s lawsuit alleged that these platforms not only facilitated the shooter’s radicalization but also provided him with the knowledge to execute his plans.

YouTube and Reddit intend to appeal in response to the ruling, underscoring the complexities and responsibilities of moderating content on global platforms. 

These companies face similar scrutiny in Australia, demanding accountability in managing extremist content.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.