Donald Trump Jr. falsely implied that social-media companies only delete a shooter’s personal information if that person is a liberal. Three recent shootings and bombings reveal that’s not true.
“You think there’s any chance whatsoever that a mass shooters hateful Instagram and YouTube channels would be pulled immediately if they were NRA members as opposed to liberal Vegan PETA activists?” Trump Jr. tweeted early Wednesday. “Asking for a few million friends in the @NRA”
The president’s son was referring to Nasim Aghdam, the woman who shot three people at YouTube headquarters on Tuesday. Aghdam made YouTube videos about workouts and veganism. According to her website and family, Aghdam was angry at the company for supposedly “censoring” some content and changing how they pay content-makers.
“People like me are not good for big business, like for animal business, medicine business and for many other businesses,” she said in a 2017 Facebook video viewed by the New York Times. “That’s why they are discriminating and censoring us.”
After the shooting, Aghdam’s Facebook and Instagram accounts were deactivated. Her YouTube page was pulled down for “multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy,” a message said.
Trump Jr.’s tweet implied that tech companies only deleted Aghdam’s profiles because she was a vegan, which he seems to equate with being liberal.
But companies like YouTube’s parent, Google, and Facebook have been increasingly quick to yank suspected killers’ online presence.
In November, Facebook deactivated the profile of Devin Kelley after he killed 25 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Before the shooting, Kelley posted a picture of a semiautomatic rifle on Facebook captioned: “She’s a bad bitch.”
In February, Instagram pulled down two accounts belonging to Nikolas Cruz, the man accused of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Cruz posted pictures of guns, knives, and bullets, and of him wearing a pro-Trump “Make America Great Again” hat.
“This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the people who have been affected,” Instagram and its parent company Facebook said in a statement. “There is absolutely no place on our platforms for people who commit such horrendous acts. We have found and immediately deleted the shooter’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram.”
Last month, Google Maps blurred out the home of Mark Conditt after police obtained an arrest warrant accusing him of bombing several sites in Austin, Texas. The blur, a neat rectangle applied over pictures of Conditt’s home but not on any other nearby buildings, appeared before law enforcement announced Conditt’s name.
Conditt appears to have had few social media profiles, but previously blogged about holding conservative views, including supporting the death penalty, and opposing abortion and gay marriage.
While Kelley’s, Cruz’s, and Conditt’s opinions on the NRA are unknown, none were “liberal Vegan PETA activists” like Trump Jr. described in his tweet.