Following the shooting at the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California yesterday, the company has announced plans to increase security in all of its offices around the world. This is intended to "make them safer, not just in the short term but in the long term," says YouTube. The movement reflects a growing concern in Silicon Valley that the effects of increasingly toxic and partisan behavior online can translate into violent offline actions.
The YouTube statement was launched through Google's Twitter account for communications; It is not clear if Google will implement stronger security measures beyond YouTube. The Verge contacted Google for comments.
The shooter, 39, Nasim Aghdam of San Diego, died yesterday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after firing and injuring three employees. From police reports, testimonials from members of the Aghdam family and extensive traces of the online behavior of women on YouTube and other platforms, we now know that Aghdam was disgusted by the demonetization of her videos and the damage to her financial well-being.
She called the practice "censorship" and said in a video: "There is no freedom of expression in [the] real world [and] you will be repressed for telling the truth that the system does not support." Aghdam was a vegan and activist for animal rights, and none of her videos involved direct calls to violence.
However, in the wake of the shootings, far-right members of the right and conspiracy theorists, who share a hatred for YouTube for their alleged liberal bias, have begun to spread misinformation about the shooter and are even trying to call Aghdam as a martyr freedom of expression. The hashtag #CensorshipKills has emerged as a rallying point for those who want to use the Aghdam attack as a political tool in the fight against platform moderation and political correctness.
The YouTube statement, of course, does not address any of these issues, but instead focuses on the victims, the YouTube community and what the company plans to do in the coming days to offer support and improve employee protections.