TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News at 10) — Tampa Bay cybersecurity experts are weighing in on an investigation into social media platforms. New York investigators are investigating the social media platforms used by the suspect following the Buffalo, NY mass shooting.
Recent studies show an increase in mass shootings, especially as they are linked to social media. Local experts say there is more to it.
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“As far as importance in their lives, it’s definitely increased,” said Sharon Moran, a cybersecurity expert who has taught in the field for more than 3 decades at Hillsborough Community College.
Investigators are dissecting the roles of social media in gun violence following the bison shooting where ten people were killed.
Police are calling it an act of domestic terrorism by a white supremacist after the shooter went live and allegedly hinted in a private social media chat before committing the crime.
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“If you look back to 15 years ago, the way they use it for platforms changes. Mostly I see them now on Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok,” Moran explained. She says that social media can also offer a sense of illusion “They can hide behind different accounts and that opens up a level of freedom.”
The most recent data from the FBI shows that hate crimes are at their highest level in more than a decade. By the end of 2020, there were 611 mass shootings and by the end of 2021, 693, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
A study from North Carolina suggests there is a trend between viewing similar violence on social media and an increase in such crimes.
“I mean, he’s isolated, he’s in the dark web, he’s radicalized, he’s turning all this behavior that’s not normal into real action.” But Moran says what happened in Buffalo doesn’t represent all teenagers. “A person like him may not have had the platform, on the one hand, to radicalize himself and on the other hand, to feel empowered to come out and act on it.”
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To learn more about Hillsborough Community College’s cybersecurity program, click here.