Online Radicalization Case Study of a Mass Shooting: the Payton Gendron Manifesto
Keywords:Buffalo Attack, Manifesto, Payton Gendron, Online Radicalization, Mass Schooting
Scholarship on the radicalization processes that lead to violence has consistently suggested there are limitations to online radicalization models noting that offline connections to extremist groups are typically required, as well. As the extent to which people’s social and political identities are increasingly online, this research investigates how content consumed online may correlate to rationales for violent action. Exploration of this thesis was carried out in a case analysis of Buffalo mass shooter Payton Gendron. Specifically, the manifesto he created prior to the attack overtly argues that his radicalization was informed entirely by online spaces, even listing the specific sites that were instrumental to his radicalization. The manifesto was evaluated in terms of where the content came from and the extent to which the document was plagiarized from specific online sources. Results suggest that the rationale provided for the attack was almost entirely sourced from the online sites Gendron claimed were foundational to forming his ideology. This suggests consistency between his claim to have been radicalized online and the radicalizing spaces online he frequented. Results are considered in the context of various deradicalization and radicalization prevention strategies.
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