On Saturday, May 18, 2022, ten people were killed and three were injured following 18-year-old Payton Gendron‘s mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. The massacre is being investigated as a hate crime by the Justice Department as 11 of the 13 that were shot were African-American. Gendron wrote a 180-page diatribe where he allegedly details how he had been radicalized and describes the attack as terrorism and himself as a White Supremacist. He was arraigned Saturday on a first-degree murder charge. Gendron also broadcasted the attack on Twitch but it was removed less than two minutes after the shooting began. Despite Twitch’s quick response, the company has faced backlash regarding the incident as it’s yet another situation that got circulated on the platform and has spread across the internet.
This is not the first time that an incident like the shooting was livestreamed on Twitch. The 2019 shooting that killed two people near a synagogue in Germany was livestreamed on Twitch before getting removed. At the time, Twitch said that it was “shocked and saddened” by the incident in Germany and stressed that the platform “has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct. Gendron allegedly referenced the attack in Germany in his 180 document. There was also a mass shooting that same year at two mosques in New Zealand which left 51 people dead. The attack was livestreamed on Facebook first, before making its way to Twitch. The video on Twitch was 35-minutes long.
Talking about how livestreaming presents a massive challenge to moderate, Twitch said “the vast majority of content that appears on Twitch is gone the moment it’s created and seen. That fact requires us to think about safety and community health in different ways than other services that are primarily based on pre-recorded and uploaded content.” Twitch uses a mix of machine detection systems, human moderators, and user reporting to identify content that violates its guidelines. However, as history shows, once something gets uploaded to the internet, it’s very difficult to get rid of it.
Twitch confirmed that the shooting was streamed on its platform and that Payton Gendron, the user “has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content.”