Motivation for mass shootings like ones in Dayton, El Paso come from radical websites and social media, expert warns

Updated: Aug. 5, 2019 at 3:53 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 News is digging deeper into where the shooters in horrifying mass shooting cases are getting their motivation.

The president called out the evil inside the internet on Monday.

The motive in the Dayton shooting is still under investigation, but at this very moment, the site police said the El Paso shooter posted his hateful manifesto is down.

At least one expert 19 News met with said the problem is, when you shut down sites like them, their users will just go somewhere else on the internet to spew hate.

Professor Brandon Szuminsky at Baldwin Wallace said many troubled souls that carry out acts like the ones in Dayton and El Paso have used the internet to find community.

“Unfortunately, the ones that they are finding are not ones that are going to help them get better,” he said. “It’s one that’s going to make them worse.”

Before the internet, Szuminsky says it was unlikely for extremists to meet each other.

He showed 19 News some of the sites he said encourages radical behavior.

The one where the El Paso shooter posted his manifesto is called 8chan.

“8chan is serving as a place where these sorts of people to congregate and find other people that are going to tell them they’re not crazy, when in fact they are,” Szuminsky said.

Monday morning, President Trump said, “We must recognize that the internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts.”

The sites look like message boards, and almost everyone who is posting is anonymous.

What makes it even more impossible to regulate is that when owners of a site make safety changes users don’t like, they just make a new one.

“It’s deeply depressing,” Szuminsky said. “I don’t think there’s a simple answer of what we do.”

The only thing he said he can think to do is recognize the problem.

“It really runs counter to all the reasons why free speech is in the Constitution,” Szuminsky said. “It troubles me that it’s being used as a shield of this intolerance.”

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