Social Platforms Will Face Lawsuits For Radicalizing Mass Shooter

A judge in NYC has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against several social media companies. The companies are being sued for their alleged role in radicalizing Payton Gendron, a man who killed 10 people.

According to CNN, court documents state the mass shooter of a Buffalo grocery store in 2022 was influenced by the content he saw on YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit.

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Erie County Supreme Court Justice Paula Feroleto concluded, “The complaint sufficiently pleads viable causes of action to go forward.”

Furthermore, plaintiffs can proceed with their suit. It cites that several media companies, including Meta, 4chan, Reddit, and Alphabet, “profit from the racist, antisemitic, and violent material” shown on their platforms. It is used to “maximize user engagement.”

Payton Gendron allegedly consumed the hateful material as he used the platforms.

The social media companies in the suit motioned to dismiss the case. Their legal representation argued in court documents that the companies are similar to message boards with third-party content.

The Judge’s Statement

However, the judge did not buy their argument. Feroleto stated the platforms are designed to be addictive and allow content that can easily radicalize minds.

“…plaintiffs contend the defendants’ platforms are more than just message boards,” the court document read.

“They allege they are sophisticated products designed to be addictive to young users and they specifically directed Gendron to further platforms or postings that indoctrinated him with ‘white replacement theory,’” Judge Feroleto’s decision stated.

Moreover, the legal official stated it was too early in the game to rule if the case should be dismissed.

“It is far too early to rule as a matter of law that the actions, or inaction, of the social media/internet defendants through their platforms require dismissal,” said the judge.

What The Social Platforms Said In Their Defense

Meta has yet to make a statement but YouTube Spokesperson José Castañeda submitted a statement to CNN.

The company contends that they have invested in regulating extremist content.

The statement said, “While we disagree with today’s decision and will be appealing, we will continue to work with law enforcement, other platforms, and civil society to share intelligence and best practices,” the message read. 

Additionally, Reddit plans to appeal the decision, stating, “Our sitewide policies explicitly prohibit content that promotes hate based on identity or vulnerability, as well as content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or group of people.”

“We are constantly evaluating ways to improve our detection and removal of this content,” the statement added.

As previously reported, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Payton Gendron’s mass shooting case.

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