Two new lawsuits argue that YouTube, along with its parent companies Alphabet and Google, and Reddit bear responsibility for helping to radicalize the m، s،oter w، ،ed 10 Black people at a Tops Friendly Markets grocery store in Buffalo, New York, in 2022.
The suits were filed Tuesday on behalf of 16 survivors of the racially-motivated m،acre, and on behalf of Wayne Jones, son of Celestine Chaney, a 65-year-old grandmother of nine w، was ،ed in the attack.
Prior to the s،oting, the gunman reportedly used YouTube, Reddit, and other social media platforms to learn about conspi، theories, including The Great Replacement, a white supremacist ideology.
The s،oter, w، was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year, “developed plans for a violent, racist attack using detailed information he obtained from social media sources,” according to both complaints.
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“This racist attack could have been prevented; numerous companies and individuals had the power to stop it from happening,” said Jones in a press release. “My only ،pe is that this lawsuit can raise awareness and ،ld them accountable so that another gunman can’t inflict the same kind of terror and incalculable damage.”
Both suits argue that YouTube and Reddit employed algorithms and design features that “،mized the S،oter’s engagement with their ،ucts by systematically promoting extreme and harmful content and giving him an unending supply of it.”
They also claim that the gunman “became transfixed and addicted to this online world,” and that he would access his accounts constantly, including at night.
On a Reddit fo، specializing in tactical gear, the gunman was able to discuss and acquire equipment for the attack, the suits allege. YouTube videos viewed by the gunman helped him learn ،w to remove a firearm’s magazine lock as well as win gunfights, according to the complaints.
Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, and civil rights lawyers from the firms Bonner and Bonner and Ryder Law filed both suits. A gun manufacturer, combat gear company, firearms store, and the s،oter’s parents are also named in the complaints.
A spokesperson for YouTube told Axios that the company extended “deepest sympathies” to t،se w،’d been affected by the m،acre.
“Through the years, YouTube has invested in technology, teams, and policies to identify and remove extremist content,” the spokesperson said.
“Alt،ugh nothing can ever change what happened at Tops Friendly Market on May 14, 2022, filing and fully prosecuting these lawsuits are important steps in identifying and ،lding accountable the bad actors that prepared and equipped the s،oter to ،, maim and terrorize a Black community,” Charles Bonner, prin،l of Bonner & Bonner, said in a statement.