NYC Mayor: Social-Media Platforms Have ‘Corporate Responsibility’ to Identify Violent Rhetoric

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New York City mayor Eric Adams on Sunday suggested that social media companies “must step up” to identify users that talk online about committing violence, days after a man with a history of posting violent rants online shot ten people in a Brooklyn subway.

Adams and NYPD commissioner Keechant Sewell discussed the shooting and the alleged shooter, Frank James, during an appearance on ABC’s This Week, with Adams suggesting social media platforms have a “corporate responsibility when we are watching hate brew online.” He suggested artificial intelligence can be used to identify users talking about violence online.

James is accused of throwing a smoke canister and opening fire on a rush-hour subway train that pulled into a station in the Sunset Park neighborhood around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. James, who was reportedly wearing an orange construction vest and gas mask during the shooting, had a history of concerning social media posts that led the NYPD to increase security for Adams before James was apprehended last week.

James reportedly published a number of rants on YouTube, including a video last month in which he said he was “entering the danger zone,” the New York Post reported.

“Mr. Mayor, I’m a victim of your mental-health program,” he said in a video.

James also said he is “full of hate, full of anger, and full of bitterness” and ranted about the “horror show” of the city’s mental-health services.

“What’s going on in that place is violence,” he said about a facility he said he received care from. “Not physical violence,” he said, “but the kind of violence a child experiences in grade school . . . that would make him go get a gun and shooting motherf***ers.”

He also posted rants about race issues and suggested that the war in Ukraine is evidence that black people are treated poorly in society.

“These white motherf***ers, this is what they do,” he said. “Ultimately at the end of the day they kill and commit genocide against each other. What do you think they gonna do to your black ass?”

“It’s just a matter of time before these white motherf***ers decide, ‘Hey listen. Enough is enough. These n****** got to go,’” he said.

He went on: “And what’re you going to do? You gonna fight. And guess what? You gonna die. Cause unlike President [Zelensky] over in Ukraine, nobody has your back. The whole world is against you. And you’re against your f***ing self. So why should you be alive again is the f***ing question. Why should a n***** be alive on this planet? Besides to pick cotton or chop sugar cane or tobacco.”

“And so the message to me is: I should have gotten a gun, and just started shooting motherf***ers,” he concluded. “Or I should have gotten some dope and started shooting or starting hitting bitches in the head, robbing old ladies, you know what the f*** it is.”

On Sunday, Adams also voiced concern about drill rap, a genre in hip-hop, and criticized those that talk about “inflicting violence on rival gangs.”

Host George Stephanopoulos asked Sewell if trains need a larger police presence in the wake of the shooting. Sewell said city subway personnel have enhanced patrols since January and noted that crime in the subway is below pre-Covid numbers.

“We’re surging more officers into the subway system. We recognize that people need to see a visible presence of police in the subway, and we’re endeavoring to make sure that that happens,” she said

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