The probe, disclosed Wednesday by James’ office, focuses on the livestreaming platform Twitch, the messaging service Discord and the websites 4chan and 8chan (now known as 8kun). Other unnamed companies could also be drawn into the investigation, James said.
News of the investigation further heightens scrutiny surrounding tech platforms and their handling of the Buffalo shooting suspect’s racist, violent online content, including a 180-page document that has been attributed to the suspect.
Discord told CNN in a statement it plans to cooperate with the probe. Amazon-owned Twitch and 4chan and 8chan didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Results of the inquiry will be sent to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who directed James to begin the investigation, Hochul said Wednesday.
“These social media platforms have to take responsibility,” Hochul said. “They must be more vigilant in monitoring the content and they must be held accountable for favoring engagement over public safety.”
In a letter to James dated Wednesday, Hochul called for the investigation to determine “whether specific companies have civil or criminal liability for their role in promoting, facilitating, or providing a platform to plan and promote violence.”
Multiple experts on the First Amendment and platform liability have said it would not have been illegal for the Buffalo shooting suspect to livestream his video online.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, along with the First Amendment, also shield social media and tech platforms from liability for most user-generated content, though a Texas state law currently before the Supreme Court purports to restrict how platforms can moderate content.