NY mayor slams social media over subway shooter’s violent posts

The police should be informed when violent rhetoric is identified online, said Mayor Eric Adams.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

New York Mayor Eric Adams called out social media on Wednesday for not removing violent posts after the Brooklyn subway shooter’s YouTube videos were publicized following the Tuesday attack that left 29 injured.

“I cannot play a song on a social media channel that belongs to someone else without them identifying that. Why aren’t we identifying these dangerous threats?” Adams asked during an interview with CNN. “Why aren’t we being more proactive instead of waiting for this to happen?”

When signs are clear that there are “those who are leaning toward violent actions,” the huge conglomerates must do their part to prevent it and not continue “ignoring them,” according to the mayor.

“There is some responsibility, I think, on social media industries and companies,” he said. “[We] must lean into why we’re watching these postings and these threats every day, and no one is giving an early warning sign to law enforcement.”

Frank James, 62, an African American, had uploaded to his channel many posts over the last several years that were full of racial hatred. He ranted against Jews, Latinos, and white people oppressing blacks, but also against more educated and high-profile blacks, such as Mayor Adams.

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James specifically blamed the mayor, who was elected just a few months ago, for not doing enough to ensure safety on the subways and for the failures of the city’s mental health system, which he said he had personally experienced as an on-and-off patient for many years.

After his threatening railings against the mayor were publicized, the police increased security around Adams until James was caught Wednesday.

Adams’ interview came several hours before the capture.

Social media has a very mixed record on pulling down problematic posts. Last August, the Center for Countering Digital Hate released a report that found that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok failed to act against antisemitism on their platforms in 84% of cases.

These included posts denying the Holocaust, saying Jews were responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic and promoting white supremacism that were viewed more than seven million times.

Twitter, Instagram and Twitter, for example, reportedly allow hashtags like “#killtheJews” to remain online.

Just nine days ago, Twitter responded to a complaint about a Lebanese journalist calling to “Scatter the bodies of the Zionists everywhere” by saying that this did not violate its hate speech policy.

James will appear in federal court in Brooklyn Thursday and be charged, among other crimes, with committing an act of terrorism. He is alleged to have set off a smoke bomb on the N train and shooting passengers with a 9mm Glock pistol, wounding 10 people. The attack could have been much worse, according to police, had his weapon not jammed.