An active shooting was reported during lunch break at the Youtube headquarters at San Bruno, California, 12:46PM Tuesday Afternoon, according to a San Bruno Police spokesperson. Three victims were conveyed to the nearby Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital: a 36-year-old male in critical condition, a 32-year-old woman in serious condition, and a 27-year-old woman in fair condition. A fourth was a woman who was found dead, killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She was later identified to be the perpetrator.
The woman was later identified to be Nasim Najafi Aghdam, a 39-year-old who had posted a video on her YouTube channel, alleging that the video sharing platform had “discriminated and filtered” her content.
Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai released a note early the next day, stating that the company is “doing everything we can to support [the victims] and their families at this time”. Google had acquired YouTube in November 2006.
— Google Communications (@Google_Comms) April 3, 2018
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, echoed similar sentiments of sympathy and support for fellow tech giant Google, and their subsidiary YouTube.
From everyone at Apple, we send our sympathy and support to the team at YouTube and Google, especially the victims and their families.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 3, 2018
This incident marks the high tide of censorship backlash concerning social media and sharing sites YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. These platforms had been at the centre of controversy in the past few months: Facebook with algorithm changes, fake news allegations and the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal, Twitter with the shutting down of controversial right-wing accounts, and YouTube with the recent monetisation policy changes.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey later responded to a security breach on the platform during the attack. A senior staffer at YouTube found his account hijacked by hackers. Vadim Lavrusik, a product manager at YouTube, had his verified profile compromised by unknown parties. A prominent YouTuber, Keemstar, was referenced in a tweet that read “PLEASE HELP ME FIND MY FRIEND I LOST HIM IN THE SHOOTING”.
We’re also aware of the misinformation being spread on Twitter. We’re tracking, learning, and taking action. We‘re working diligently on product solutions to help. https://t.co/V8vmxgFkmR
— jack (@jack) April 3, 2018
The violence and backlash over these social media platforms and sharing sites serves to highlight the importance society at large places on freedom of speech and ridding censorship. With the moves made by these corporations to clamp down on controversy, fake news and radicalism, the very foundations of social media might be threathened.