Several major tech companies were hit with a massive wrongful death lawsuit related to last year’s racist massacre at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, for allegedly feeding the convicted gunman “racist, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist propaganda.”
The 144-page lawsuit from survivor Latisha Rogers and the families of several victims was filed in New York State Court on Friday. The complaint names Facebook parent company Meta, Twitch owner Amazon, Google parent company Alphabet – which owns YouTube – and Snapchat owner Snap, as well as Discord, Reddit and the hate-filled website 4Chan. Also mentioned are a manufacturer of body armor, a firearms store, a manufacturer of gun accessories and the parents of the shooter.
The gunman, Payton Gendron, killed 10 black people and wounded three others in a Tops supermarket in May last year. He pleaded guilty to charges including domestic terrorism motivated by hate in November and was sentenced to life without parole in February.
Notably, Gendron wrote a racial manifesto prior to the shooting touting the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, pushed into the mainstream by then-Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, saying he chose the shop for the shooting because it was in a predominantly black community.
The families’ indictment comes a day after New York Attorney General Letitia James separately sued gun accessories manufacturer, Mean Arms, for selling to the gunman a magazine with an “easily” removable lock used in the crime , according to a press release.
Friday’s filing comes two days before the one-year anniversary of the massacre.
“Gendron’s radicalization on social media was neither coincidence nor coincidence; it was the foreseeable consequence of the defendant social media companies’ conscious decision to design, program and operate platforms and tools that maximize user engagement (and associated advertising revenue) at the expense of public safety,” the family’s lawsuit reads .
The lawsuit argues that Gendron was not raised by a racist family and did not live in a “radically polarized community,” but that he was exposed to “racist, anti-Semitic and violence-promoting material” that “caused his radicalization.” [and] motivated him to racial violence.”
“The defendant social media companies pulled Gendron down a rabbit hole of
increasingly racist and anti-Semitic sites, which indoctrinate him in white supremacist substitution theory and violent accelerationism,” the lawsuit states.
Buffalo civil attorney John Elmore filed the complaint on behalf of the families of three victims, along with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Social Media Victims Law Center.
Barbara Massey Mapps, sister of Buffalo shooting victim Katherine “Kat” Massey, told ABC News that she hopes “something will come out” of the lawsuit.
“Every day or every few days, all you hear about is a mass shooting,” Mapps told ABC. ‘You have to start somewhere if they want to get the message across. These big companies only know one thing, money. So you have to hurt them. How many people do you want to see dead?