Mass shooters, manifestos and 8chan: the language of massacre

Twenty-two people were killed and more than two dozen injured when a shooter opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle in a Walmart, near the US-Mexico border, filled with a mostly immigrant population. The shooter posted a manifesto on 8chan prior to the assault.

what is a manifesto

A manifesto is a public, written statement on the author’s views of a topic. The shooter—as well as previous mass shooters—posted his perspective on the problems in the world and what he had planned to do about them. These statements are meant to do more than vent grievances, however.

A University of Chicago historian describes language “triggers” or specific words that are found in the shooter’s manifesto and that are used as a call to action for more violence. These words are meant to be part of a bigger plan that is connected with other violent actions that share the same goal: to stop a demographic shift (or “replacement”) from occurring.

For more on this, check out the discussion in the debater here.

what is 8chan

8chan is an online message board that’s set up for people to discuss hundreds of different topics without rules. Child pornography finds a home here, for example. A livestream video of the Christchurch mosque shootings and the manifesto from the El Paso shooter was found here. Violence, hatred, conspiracy theories all have an active audience on 8chan.

Google has erased the site from its search engines, and its online security services have been terminated from Cloudflare but it’s still up and running, and its users remain.

Does social media share some responsibility for supporting a violent online community?

For this complicated and political topic, we tried to take an un-spun, careful look at information from both camps: the Trump-is-to-blame-for-his-rhetoric camp and the n0-he’s-not-we-need-more-mental-health-screening camp. There’s more common ground than you might think.

And, is there a link between video games and violence? Geek out on a short history of the studies that proved and then unproved the relationship.


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