Is It A Crime to Post Violent Videos in New York?
Governor Kathy Hochul and New York State lawmakers are discussing making the distribution of violent videos a criminal act in New York State. This comes in response to a report released about the racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo in May of this year. While it is already against the terms of service on many websites and applications to distribute graphic violent content, this would criminalize distributing such content.
The suspect live-streamed the shooting on Twitch. Twitch ended the broadcast about two minutes after the first victim was shot, but that portion of the video was reuploaded on other sites such as 4chan. The suspect had written he was going to live-stream his attack to inspire others to do the same. The suspect claimed that he had been inspired by others who had committed mass murders while live-streaming, most notably one instance in New Zealand where an Australian man attacked two mosques.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James recommended criminal penalties for creating violent or disturbing pictures or videos depicting graphic acts of violence, and include penalties for those who share and distribute such content. She added that such content is a "breeding ground for white supremacy." Governor Hochul stated that this would be "a road map toward greater accountability."
The suggestion was met with some skepticism, however. Veteran prosecutor Jack Ryan of the Queens District Attorney's office stated,
"It makes little if any sense. If you've committed a homicide, it's not going to deter you that it's against the law to tape it, and if you're an accomplice to homicide you're as guilty of the murder as the person who pulled the trigger. I quite frankly don't understand what they are trying to do."
It should be noted that the law would exempt acts in which the filming was passive such as police body cam footage. It is intended only to apply to media explicitly intent on spreading acts of violence.
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