Democracy & Elections

The Lawfare Podcast: Social Media Platforms and the Buffalo Shooting

Jen Patja, Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic, Brian Fishman
Thursday, May 26, 2022, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

On May 14, a shooter attacked a supermarket in a historically Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and wounding three. The streaming platform Twitch quickly disabled the livestream the shooter had published of the attack—but video of the violence, and copies of the white supremacist manifesto released by the attacker online, continue to circulate on the internet. 

How should we evaluate the response of social media platforms to the tragedy in Buffalo? This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Brian Fishman, who formerly worked at Facebook, now Meta, as the policy director for counterterrorism and dangerous organizations. Brian helped lead Facebook’s response to the 2019 Christchurch shooting, another act of far-right violence livestreamed online. He walked us through how platforms respond to crises like these, why it’s so difficult to remove material like the Buffalo video and manifesto from the internet, and what it would look like for platforms to do better.

Jen Patja is the editor and producer of the Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Evelyn Douek is an Assistant Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Senior Research Fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She holds a doctorate from Harvard Law School on the topic of private and public regulation of online speech. Prior to attending HLS, Evelyn was an Associate (clerk) to the Honourable Chief Justice Susan Kiefel of the High Court of Australia. She received her LL.B. from UNSW Sydney, where she was Executive Editor of the UNSW Law Journal.
Quinta Jurecic is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a senior editor at Lawfare. She previously served as Lawfare's managing editor and as an editorial writer for the Washington Post.
Brian Fishman is a co-founder of Cinder, an integrated software platform for Trust and Safety. Previously, he served as a Policy Director at Facebook and the Director of Research for the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Fishman is the author of The Master Plan: ISIS: al-Qaeda, and the Jihadi Strategy for Final Victory (Yale University Press, 2016).

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