Elmore said the goal is to force reform.
“We cannot bring back the victims of this lawsuit, but we will make sure that no other families file this type of case,” he said. No families deserve membership in this unhappy club, Elmore said.
The lawsuit essentially focuses on the entire journey that took Gendron from being a regular American teenager to becoming a violent white supremacist—one with the tools and intent to massacre as many black people as possible. can be. They are targeting platforms like Facebook and Snapchat as the first part of that process.
“Gendron’s radicalization on social media was not a coincidence or an accident,” the complaint states. “This is the known result of the defendant social media companies’ conscious decision to design, program, and operate platforms and tools that maximize user engagement (and corresponding advertising revenue) in cost of public safety.”
The lawsuit claims that the white supremacist ideology that captured Gendron, specifically the “grand replacement theory” — which envisions an international scheme to undermine the political power of white people — is a “social media product.” Although it may have been created by a French author and promoted by die-hard neo-Nazis, the lawsuit states that “replacement theorists rely heavily on social media—and its tools and features which the Social Media Defendants use to increase their own engagement-in promoting racist ideology to young and impressionable followers.”
Exposure to this type of hate propaganda as a teenager, mixed with the addictive nature of social media, fundamentally changed Grendron’s brain chemistry, Elmore argued in his filings.
Social media platforms boost users’ engagement “not by showing them content they request or want to see, but rather, by showing them and otherwise recommending content they otherwise wouldn’t look at,” the complaint continued. . “Taking full advantage of the incomplete development of Gendron’s frontal lobe, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat continue his engagement with the product by targeting him with extreme and violent content and connections that, in the information and faith, promote racism, antisemitism, and gun violence.”
It’s not a bug, argued Elmore. “These products function as designed and intended.”
These platforms pointed Gendron to the next step in his radicalization: 4chan.
While there is no algorithm on the famous image board, there is a waiting “community of fellow racists urging him to continue,” the lawsuit says. Additionally, Gendron often uses /k/, the weapons board. That community, and the likes of Discord, helped him prepare for the attack and increase his chances of success.
The lawsuit names 4chan financial backer Good Smile, a major Japanese toy company that in 2015 invested $2.4 million for a 30 percent share of the site, according to documents obtained by WIRED. Pointing to a report from WIRED and a lawsuit filed by former employees of the company, the families said Good Smile’s role in 4chan “is not that of a passive investor but actively involved in the management of social media site.”
In a statement from April, Good Smile denied the WIRED report, insisting, “We have no partnership with 4chan, have no influence over the management and/or control of 4chan.” In the same statement, however, Good Smile also said, “We severed any limited relationship we previously had with 4chan in June of 2022. Since then, we have not had any relationship with 4chan.” The company cited “confidentiality obligations” that prevented it from commenting on the matter and ignored multiple requests for comment.