It’s Easy to Despair and Do Nothing After the Halle Synagogue Shooting. But We Shouldn’t.

We don’t have the answers to stop terror attacks being live streamed, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask questions

Becca Lewis
FFWD

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An image taken from the live stream of the shooter in Halle yesterday.

In March, there was the Christchurch massacre, when a gunman gleefully referenced popular memes while live streaming himself shooting dozens of Muslim community members. In April, there was the Poway, California synagogue shooting, when a Christchurch copycat attempted to live stream himself in the same manner, failed, but still managed to kill a woman and injure three others.

With the Halle synagogue shooting in Germany yesterday, live streamed broadcasts of the mass murders of Muslim and Jewish communities have officially become a trend.

I am an academic who studies the far-right online, and after these tragedies, people often ask me what we can do to stop this from happening again.

In these moments, I find myself at a loss for words. I can speak in great detail about the factors that cause this type of violence: institutional bigotry across generations; racism fueled by mass media and mainstream politicians; young male alienation, loneliness, and a sense of diminishing power, stoked by opportunists online; major…

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Becca Lewis
FFWD
Writer for

I research media manipulation and political digital media at Stanford and Data & Society.