Explainer: Social media and the Texas shooter’s messages


The latest mass shootings in the US by active social-media users may bring more pressure on social media companies to heighten their scrutiny of online communications. — REUTERS

Could Facebook have known about ominous direct-message threats made by a gunman who Texas authorities say massacred 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school? Could it have warned the authorities?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revealed the online messages sent minutes before the May 24 attack, although he called them posts, which are typically distributed to a wide audience. Facebook stepped in to note that the gunman sent one-to-one direct messages, not public posts, and that they weren’t discovered until “after the terrible tragedy”.

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