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Livestream of Buffalo Shooter on Many Platforms and Disinformation Governance Board Director Resigns

May 19-25, 2022 | Issue 1 - Counter Threat Strategic Communications (CTSC)

Chloe Bissett, CTSC Team

Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff



Buffalo, New York PD Dodge Charger [1]



Date: May 19, 2022

Location: Buffalo, New York, USA

Parties involved: CEO of Twitch; CEO of Amazon; online content moderators; victims of the Buffalo shooting; Facebook; Twitter, Reddit, WeChat, Streamable, Rumble, Truth Social, Parler

The event: On May 14, a shooter killed 10 people and injured three at a TOPS supermarket known to be frequented by African Americans.[2] 22 people watched a livestream of the shooting on the streaming platform Twitch before the company removed it. This footage was recorded and shared on multiple social media platforms and sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, WeChat, Streamable, Rumble, Truth Social, and Parler. Many of the platforms have since stated that they are working to reduce the number of videos of, and links to the livestream found on their respective platforms through increased content moderation efforts.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Despite being on the nine sites, the footage has very likely been shared further on other tech platforms. It is almost certain an adversarial shift will occur in response to moderation practices, and the content will remain online. The number of people who have been exposed to the recorded footage of the attack has very likely increased due to the persistent uploads.

  • The widespread sharing of the footage will almost certainly inspire domestic and international attacks on ethnic minorities. It is likely that the attack perpetrators' livestream and manifesto will be used as operational guidance on how to commit a similar attack. It is very likely any future attackers will seek to cause more fatalities to increase their notoriety.

  • The footage will very likely have secondary traumatic impacts on victims of the Buffalo shooting or other mass shootings, such as the New Zealand Christchurch mosque attack, and their families. It is likely that this traumatic impact will support narratives of gun and weapon control. Due to the polarizing nature of the gun control debate, it is highly likely that these calls for gun control will be met with backlash from pro-gun citizens. It is likely that the clash of opinions will increase social tensions, resulting in mass protests and counter protests between people for gun control reforms and people against.



Date: May 19, 2022

Location: Washington DC, USA

Parties involved: Disinformation Governance Board (DGB) Director Nina Jankowitz; US Disinformation Governance Board; US Department of Homeland Security (DHS); US Government; far-right extremists

The event: Three weeks after the DHS announced the creation of the DGB, the DGB’s Director Nina Jankowitz has resigned, citing online abuse from members of far-right groups and personal threats to her safety.[4] The DGB and the DHS has faced backlash from critics, who stated that the DGB’s mission statement was too vague and that this vagueness would likely be used to impose limitations on free speech and infringe upon privacy rights. The DHS reaffirmed that the DGB was created to protect American citizens’ constitutional rights, while also countering the threat posed by disinformation. An internal advisory board has been assigned to determine whether the DGB will continue to operate in its current function, or will be shut down.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • It is likely that negative perceptions of the DGB will increase, due to contrary interpretations of the aims and methodology of the DGB circulating online. This will very likely lead to increased political tensions in the US between far-right individuals and the government. This will likely result in the targeting of law enforcement officials in a similar manner to the online harassment of Director Nina Jankowitz. Increased frustrations will also likely increase the possibility of physical attacks on government personnel and buildings.

  • The internal advisory board will likely decide to permanently cease the DGB's activities due to Jankowitz's resignation and the online backlash. The cessation will likely reduce the dissemination of education about disinformation through government departments, increasing the threat that disinformation poses to government departments. The cessation of activity will also likely reduce the level of disinformation education reaching community initiatives, which increases the threat disinformation poses to the daily lives of individuals and their wider communities.

  • The online abuse aimed at Jankowitz will likely lead to a governmental policy regarding online abuse towards government officials. As individuals associated with the far-right were the main perpetrators of the abuse, such policies would very likely examine and prioritize the threat posed by these individuals. While such a policy would likely protect government officials from a small proportion of online ‘trolling’ and abuse, it is unlikely that any policy would fully protect government officials from harassment. A policy that fully protects US government officials from online abuse would almost certainly be accused of violating the constitutional freedom of free speech, which would very likely result in large-scale protests due to escalated tensions between the far-right and the US government.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1]Buffalo (NY)PD Dodge Charger” by Jason Lawrence licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

[2] Gunman Kills 10 at Buffalo Supermarket in Racist Attack, The New York Times, May 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/05/14/nyregion/buffalo-shooting

[3] How the Buffalo shooting livestream went viral, The Verge, May 2022, https://www.theverge.com/2022/5/17/23100579/buffalo-shooting-twitch-livestream-viral-content-moderation

[4] Three-week-old Biden disinformation task force 'paused', BBC News, May 2022, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-61502509

[5] Three-week-old Biden disinformation task force 'paused', BBC News, May 2022, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-61502509

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