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Advocacy Groups Urge Social Networks ‘To Shut Hate Speech Down’ After Buffalo Shooting

What’s happening

A coalition of advocacy and civil rights groups have a list of demands for social media companies in the wake of the Buffalo shooting.

Why it matters

The demands underscore how social media companies are facing more pressure to combat hate speech on its platform.

A coalition of civil rights and advocacy groups on Thursday urged social media companies to do more to combat hate speech on their platforms more than a week after a white gunman killed 10 Black people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

“The tragic killing of 10 people in New York were motivated by the racist and hurtful replacement theory that has spread like wildfire through mainstream social media and is amplified to millions of viewers on cable TV channels,” the Stop Hate for Profit coalition said in a statement. “It is time for social media platforms to shut hate speech down.”

Replacement theory is a false conspiracy theory that American elites are trying to replace native-born Americans with non-white immigrants who share their political views. 

The suspected gunman, Payton Gendron, allegedly broadcasted the shooting on livestreaming service Twitch. The company said it removed the video within two minutes of the violence beginning, but by then, links to the videos surfaced on other platforms such as Facebook. The gunman also mentioned the replacement theory in a 180-page document posted online. 

Social media platforms have rules against hate speech, but advocacy groups say they’re not properly enforcing their policies. The coalition, known for a popular campaign in 2020 in which major advertisers paused spending on Facebook, say that Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, Discord, YouTube and Reddit need to do more to combat white supremacist content.

The coalition is calling on the platforms to to ban repeated offenders such as Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, take down content about the great replacement theory, consistently apply content policies, improve algorithms to better identify white supremacists, train moderators to recognize white supremacist speech and create tools to detect language used by white supremacists. The demands show how advocacy groups are putting more pressure on social networks to do a better job of combating hate speech. 

In a 23-page document, the coalition provided examples of content about replacement theory shared on various social media platforms. 

Fox News, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, Discord, YouTube and Reddit didn’t immediately have a response to the demands.

Stop Hate for Profit includes groups such as the ADL, Color of Change, NAACP and Common Sense Media.

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