Twitter draws criticism for showing graphic images of victims of Allen Mall shooting in Texas


Twitter and its owner Elon Musk are facing criticism after some of the social media network’s users posted graphic images of the victims of the deadly Allen Premium Outlets mall shooting in Texas, with critics calling the presence of such images “unethical” and “horrible.”

The spread of the graphic images on Twitter highlights the content moderation changes at the social media service under billionaire Elon Musk, who bought the company last year and has overhauled many of its policies. 

In an email to a question about the graphic images, Twitter responded with a poop emoji — the automated reply to any inquiries sent to [email protected]. Ella Irwin, vice president of trust and safety at Twitter, didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

Musk has cut back on content moderation since he bought Twitter last year, firing workers who battled misinformation on the social media platform. Most big social media networks have teams dedicated to tracking hate speech and enforcing rules against harmful content, but under Musk, hate speech has proliferated at the service.

Some users complained about the graphic images of the attack, in which a gunman killed eight people and wounded several others, although it doesn’t appear that the billionaire has responded as of Monday morning. In the days after the May 6 shooting, Musk tweeted a photo of himself on the cover of Time Magazine and posted a poll asking users if their feeds are as “compelling as possible,” among other tweets.

“There is nothing virtuous or ethical about showing easily indentifiable dead children and adults, whose families might not yet know they are dead,” wrote Emily Bell, a professor and director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, on Twitter. “It’s deeply unethical — it strips victims and their families of privacy and dignity in death.”

She added, “It serves only Musk’s click farm.”

Texas community mourns following mall shooting that killed 8 people


One Twitter user posted that they reported an account for posting graphic images of the shooting, and received a response from the platform that the images didn’t violate its “sensitive media policy.” 

“Mind you, this was reporting the images of children and adults being brutally shot to death in Allen, TX,” the user wrote.

Another user complained that the lack of moderation “made it almost impossible to avoid graphic images.”

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