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Tech Firms Delete Mass Shooters’ Accounts, But it’s Not Enough

Users quickly spread videos and images that analyze and celebrate shooters, and risk inspiring future attacks

FBI agents work the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois on July 5.

FBI agents work the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois on July 5.

Photographer: Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

Mass shooting events like the one that happened July 4 near Chicago typically set off an-all-too-common chain of procedures at tech companies: unearth the attacker’s online presence, capture possibly incriminating posts and quickly shut their accounts.

As frequent as this protocol has become, the companies are still not fast enough to prevent a dangerous knock-on effect of the violence. Social media users themselves swiftly find, circulate and discuss the shooter’s posts, in some cases creating a glorification and amplification of murder that could inspire other shootings and that the technology industry—for all its engineering might—remains ill-equipped to contain.