The massacre reminds us that corporations’ profits are rooted in racism, and that is unlikely to change any time soon.

By Nolan Higdon, The Progressive

The May 14 live-streamed mass shooting that left ten people dead in Buffalo, New York, reignited debates about the connection between media and racist extremism. The shooter’s manifesto perpetuated the so-called great replacement theory, which posits that there is a concerted effort to “replace” white people with people of color. There are many variations of this baseless white supremacist conspiracy theory that have swirled around for decades.

Immediately following the shooting, pundits argued that the shooter came to internalize white supremacist ideas from social media. Indeed, the shooter’s manifesto and social media activity reveal that he spent a great deal of time online. Following the shooting, social media platforms were chided for not acting swiftly enough to moderate racist content and remove videos of the shooter’s live streamLawmakerspundits, and civil rights groups pressured social media companies to limit or ban white supremacist content from their platforms.

Memorial with flowers and candles to honor the victims of the mass shooting at the Tops market in Buffalo NY. A police SUV is turning the corner in the background

But this, of course, goes against Big Tech’s profit model, which relies on the very content that antiracists oppose. Part of this is because Big Tech is dominated by white people, so much so that a 2018 investigation revealed that ten of the largest companies in Silicon Valley “did not employ a single black woman in 2016” and three “had no black employees at all.” Research has also shown that decades of attempts at creating a more racially inclusive tech world have actually perpetuated racist outcomes. As a result, audiences are right to be skeptical that Big Tech will do anything substantive to mitigate racist attitudes and behaviors on their platforms.

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