WASHINGTON—Today marks the second anniversary of the deadly El Paso shooting in which a gunman killed 23 people and injured 23 more at a Walmart in the deadliest attack targeting the Latinx community in modern history.
The shooter published a 2,300-word manifesto online that promoted white-supremacist theories and celebrated other racially motivated shootings. The manifesto denigrated Latinx communities — in particular Mexican and Mexican-American communities — as an “invasion.” The manifesto echoing similar anti-immigrant language used in more than 2,000 ads the Trump campaign ran on Facebook in the weeks before the shooting.
The FBI has said that domestic terrorism is increasingly motivated by white-supremacist ideology and noted that domestic terrorists continue to be indoctrinated online, where they can connect with other extremists, mirror violent actions and find resources to act.
Free Press Action Co-CEO Jessica González, who co-founded the Change the Terms coalition, made the following statement:
“Today we honor the memory of the grandparents, parents and children whose lives were tragically ended two years ago when a white supremacist traveled to El Paso to target their loving and tight-knit Latinx community. Our hearts are heavy as we reflect on the bravery of those who fought to save their families, friends and neighbors and the resilience of those who continue to help each other heal after this tragedy.
“The El Paso shooter — whose online manifesto mirrored racist rants from Donald Trump and other white supremacists who labeled the Latinx community as ‘invaders’ to millions — is not the last to share deadly words aimed at Latinos and immigrants on social media. No social-media platform has outright banned white supremacists, and Donald Trump was allowed to post on social media for years, despite his outsized role in elevating hate and lies against the Latinx community.
“Make no mistake: Online hate and lies are killing us. We’ll continue to work alongside other civil-rights groups to demand that Congress take concrete steps to disrupt racist disinformation online. We know that social-media platforms won’t take such steps voluntarily. It’s abhorrent that even after the El Paso tragedy, social-media companies continue to not only host this despicable content, but drive people to it for profit.”
As a leader in the Change the Terms coalition, Free Press Action is working with over 60 civil-rights organizations to advance concrete and actionable steps that social-media companies must take immediately to reduce racist disinformation on their platforms.
The Ya Basta (Enough Already) Facebook campaign demands that Facebook end its silence on its Spanish-language disinformation crisis and appoint an executive-level manager to oversee U.S. Spanish-language content moderation policy and enforcement. The initiative also demands that Facebook publicly release the translation process of its content-moderation algorithms and hire human moderators, with specific disclosures on how moderators evaluate Spanish-language content and receive appropriate training support.