Authorities in Texas on Wednesday identified Salvador Ramos, the shooter aged 18, who opened fire at Robb Elementary School, Uvalde. Ramos had posted disturbing photos online before he carried out his senseless shooting spree Tuesday. He had already killed at least 19 children and two teachers.
Reports claim that an Instagram account linked to Ramos contained disturbing images. Since then, the account has been removed.
Letitia James, New York’s attorney General, made the announcement last week about her investigation into social media companies. Her office had been investigating another mass shooter who used online platforms to organize, promote, and stream a massacre at Buffalo’s grocery store, resulting in the deaths of 10 people. James announced that her office would be investigating Twitch. 4chan. 8chan. Discord, and any other sites used by the shooter in order to amplify the attack.
A lot of people wonder if there were any warning signs missed.
William V. Pelfrey, Jr., Ph.D., a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, stated that “it is impossible to stop people making threats online.”
He suggested, however that social media companies have a moral obligation to remove any threatening messages.
“They generally fail at this task. Direct threats, i.e. Direct threats, such as “I want the President to be shot” and “I want me to die”, are frequently flagged by law enforcement officials. Pelfrey said that indirect threats can be difficult to spot and are rarely given any attention. “Many social media companies will need to make decisions – protect individual’s rights to make oblique threats or protect safety. When we consider the cost of compromising freedom to speech and the number of lives that were lost at Buffalo, or other areas where extremists have found their motivation to attack others, it seems like a terrible idea.
The United States is still in an “Uncivil War,” as President Joe Biden calls it. This means that platforms once meant for friendly discussion have become “anti-social network” and people find themselves in echo chambers to support their views.
Anthony Silard (Professor at Luiss Business School in Rome and author of “Social Media”) stated that social media had contributed to a rising racial and cultural divide in America. Digital Age: Living free in the Art of Living.
The actions of extremists can be broadcast live via social media.
Silard said that one aspect of Buffalo’s shooting was crucial to understanding how it came about. The shooter brought with him his thoughts community via live streaming. The shooter was ready and waiting to broadcast the horrifying images of innocent victims being killed before Twitch could shut it down in a mere two minutes. Yet, millions of people watched as they succeeded.
Silard said that the shooter was less isolated because his thoughts were close at hand and believed he could be supported by hate-imbued ideologies of his group. This is an important fact for legislators to remember about social media and the tragedy.
Empathy and compassion are lacking
The empathy level of many Americans has been reduced by social media. You can easily “speak your mind about” someone via social media, based only on what they post on Facebook or a tweet that they have made. It is possible for people with like interests to get into heated arguments that can turn out hostile.
It has always been a common occurrence with emails, postings on Newsgroups, and online forums. However, it has increased dramatically in the age of social media.
Social media is a major reason why it has been so harmful to healthy societies. It erodes empathy. Silard stated that town hall meetings were a good medium to have cross-aisle discussions because people needed to be open to listening to one another, even when they had different opinions.Online conversations mean that empathy is no longer a possibility. The authors attribute the decline in empathy to social media, and a meta-analysis that included seventy-two different studies from 1979 through 2009.
Social media has largely failed in this regard, while it can sometimes be used to radicalize people, as was the case with the mass shootings.
Facebook and other social media platforms promised that their services would help people care for one another and allow them to express themselves more authentically online. Silard said that none of this happened. Pew research shows that most people now speak out less for fear of being retaliated against. Why? They realized that there were many other views they could not face through social media.”