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The Buffalo Supermarket Shooting: A Question for the Lawyers

As law enforcement continues to gather facts about Payton Gendron, at the core of their investigation is figuring out what motivated this 18-year-old to travel over 200 miles to commit this horrific act. The Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect is reported to have posted online a 180-page purported manifesto. In his manifesto, he attributes the internet for most of his beliefs and describes himself as a fascist, a White supremacist, and an anti-Semite. This begs the question, where did he get this from?

Just as importantly, who sponsored or promoted the online conversations that pushed Gendron over the edge to act, and are they the least bit culpable for the criminal consequences?

The platforms are NOT the problem here! The problem is users or misusers who twist these tools into implements of hate and promote pain and harm. If Payton Gendron’s manifesto is copied or taken word for word from someone else, isn’t it time to set the legal precedent and prosecute that person?

Can the person or persons, or the head of an organization, who posted on a social media platform, that encourages, incites, or induces another person to commit the crime of murder be prosecuted as an "accomplice" to a crime committed by another? According to Abetting is ‘encouraging, inciting, or inducing another to commit a crime’. Can the social media post writer be held accountable as an Accessory before the fact by providing assistance to the crime before it is committed?

This eighteen-year-old was encouraged, incited, and induced to commit an act of terrorism. According to CNN, Investigators were reviewing this manifesto on Saturday in connection with the shooting probe. A portion of the document is written in question-and-answer form, a sort of FAQ for hate and murder. Using readily available neurolinguistic analysis tools, these 180 pages can be analyzed for patterns and compared to White Supremacist posts and websites.

This process can potentially lead to identifying other possible bad actors who can be stopped before further killings occur.

Regulation of social media platforms is still under fierce discussion because social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. Still, state and federal agencies routinely monitor and share information about potential threats they observe.

Isn’t it time for accountability of the individuals?

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