The shooting that occurred at YouTube Headquarters yesterday in California, which saw three people injured, has been linked to anger over video ‘de-monetising’ on the platform. The suspected shooter, Youtuber Nasim Najafi Aghdam, 39, had an apparent grudge against the platform following the censorship and monetary restrictions on her videos.
The attack was carried out around lunchtime yesterday in San Bruno and saw a woman open fire with a handgun outside of the building before continuing into the YouTube premises to attack employees inside. According to a press release from the San Bruno Police Department, police officials arrived two minutes later to a scene of ‘numerous employees fleeing the premises’. Inside the building, the police officers located one injured employee before discovering a deceased woman, which was later revealed to be Aghdam herself possessing self-inflicted wounds. After the events two further injured employees were found in neighbouring buildings and of the three victims taken to a hospital, one has been reported in critical whilst the other two are in a stable condition.
The police department’s press release detailed at the time that there was ‘no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted’. It has later been revealed in a number of news reports that the attack was spurred on by the user’s hatred for the company.
Iranian born Nasim Najari Aghdam had moved to California in 1996 and built a strong social media following as a result of her vegan messages and animal rights activism. Before her accounts were deleted in the wake of yesterday’s shooting, her 5,000 YouTube subscribers would be exposed to videos of animal violence and fur production as well as homemade music videos which parodied famous singers whilst switching lyrics for her own pro-vegan ideals. Alongside fitness, food and political messages that consumed the YouTube profile, there were also a number of messages of hatred against the YouTube platform itself. Based on reports by The Telegraph, the YouTuber was angry that an age-restriction was placed on one of her videos and also made many claims online such as ‘never talk about moral and humane issues, never talk about your own life, otherwise, you will be discriminated and censored’. According to reports, she had also stopped receiving money from YouTube for hosting advertisements, a process which YouTube sometimes carries out if the user is deemed to be posting inappropriate content.
The family of Nasim Najari Aghdam have since come forward and revealed they had contacted the police prior to the attack having not heard from Nasim in two days. Having discovered that she had driven to Mountain View from her home in San Diego, they claim to have warned the police that she might lash out at the close by YouTube offices. Despite their statements, which reveal the police were aware the woman possessed a deep-seated hatred towards the company, nothing appears to have been done by police officials prior to the attack.
Although the one fatal shooting from the attack appears to be self-inflicted, the shooting comes at a time when American Gun Laws are facing increasing focus and condemnation worldwide. What’s more, the events may bring up questions as to how this shooting was possible especially following notifications to the police department. The shooting not only reveals an important relationship between social media and wider implications in the real world, but it also highlights the need for all social media platforms and technology companies to ramp up their ability to identify users that are a risk, and work with local law enforcement if necessary.