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Mass killing expert says watch what your friends, family view on social media

People can migrate to sites, like-minded people
Buffalo Supermarket Shooting
Posted at 3:49 PM, May 16, 2022

There isn’t one solution to ending mass killings like in Buffalo, but there are red flags to watch for and something you can control.

Mass killings widely seen on social media are becoming what experts believe is a new normal.

“Everybodys’ a news reporter who’s holding onto a phone and we’re getting a lot more coverage in more ways,” Katherine Schweit said.

Schweit is a retired FBI special agent who started the FBI’s active shooter program.

She also wrote the book “Stop the Killing.”

It’s not just about what you’re seeing on social media.

“We have a lot of challenges with social media and the lack of really kind of the attention paid at home to people who can migrate to a social media site and find like-minded people,” Schweit said.

Schweit says the 18-year-old Buffalo shooter randomly came across videos of the 2019 Christchurch, New Zealand massacre where at least 50 were killed and grasped onto writings and theories trying to make them his own.

“I think the Replacement Theory is just that. It’s nothing more than a theory. It's somebody who wrote something people are writing in support of this idea that somehow people who are white are the originators and owners of a country and that others who come into that country are trying to replace them,” Schweit said.

Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett, a professor at Kent State, says a common theme in mass killings is the psychology of hate.

“Hate is easy to sustain, it gets reinforced and it’s easier to see a group as evil. It’s easier to hate a group,” Neal-Barnett said.

Neal-Barnett says stopping it means presenting the truth and interacting with people of different races starting at a young age.

“Coming together in safe spaces is just a beginning and just the reinforcement of the truth which again is really hard because the falsehoods get reinforced,” Neal-Barnett said.

Schweit says there isn’t one solution.

“Watch the people around you mental health issues are part of the equation, gun access and availability are part of the equation but individuals who are on a trajectory of violence are often displaying three or four incidents of behavioral concern,” said Schweit.

Schweit says we should also recognize we can’t erase what’s already out in the world.

She points to the August 2015 shooting of a Virginia reporter and photographer.

“The video footage of that is still on the internet no matter how hard the dad of one of the victims works to get it off he can’t keep it off because it gets reposted,” said Schweit.

Schweit says part of it is what we can control.

“We don’t all need to post everything, we don't need to run things and repost and repost and we also need to be much more attentive to what our friends and family are watching,” Schweit said.

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