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‘No equal opportunity, no free speech’: Woman suspect Nasim Aghdam in YouTube shooting railed at censorship

Local media quoted unnamed sources to identify the woman suspect as Nasim Aghdam, who allegedly ran a website on which were several posts ranting against YouTube.

world Updated: Apr 04, 2018 15:14 IST
Agencies, San Francisco
YouTube,YouTube shooting,Woman shooting at YouTube
Officers run toward the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California, on April 3, 2018. (AP)

The woman identified by police as the attacker who wounded three people at YouTube’s headquarters in California was a vegan blogger who accused the video-sharing service of discriminating against her, according to her online profile.

Police said 39-year-old Nasim Najafi Aghdam from San Diego was behind Tuesday’s shooting at YouTube’s offices in Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco, where the company owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google employs nearly 2,000 people.

“The San Bruno Police Department is investigating a motive for this shooting. At this time there is no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted,” police said in a statement.

Aghdam’s online profile shows she was a vegan activist who ran a website called NasimeSabz.com, meaning ‘Green Breeze’ in Persian, where she posted about Persian culture and veganism, as well as long passages critical of YouTube.

Read | Nasim Aghdam ‘hated’ YouTube, father says he warned police morning of shooting

A screenshot of a video posted on Aghnam’s YouTube channel before it was taken down on Tuesday, showed her complaining that “YouTube filtered my channels to keep them from getting views!”

“There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site,” the post added, while in another, she said, “There is no free speech in real world and you will be suppressed for telling the truth that is not supported by the system.”

The site also complains about the small amount of money Aghdam said she got from a video that was viewed a few hundred thousand times. It also lists several YouTube videos, some devoted to vegan activism with graphic images of animal cruelty, along with channels in English, Farsi and Turkish. The domain name for the website was created in 2015, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

As of Tuesday evening, the YouTube channels were terminated for violating policies against spam, deceptive practices, and misleading content or other Terms of Service violations, according to YouTube. Facebook and Instagram pages featuring Aghdam, which Bloomberg viewed on Tuesday evening, were also removed shortly after reports identifying her as the shooter.

Read | Tech CEOs call for gun control following YouTube shooting

Over the past year, YouTube has restricted the number of ads running on millions of user-generated videos. The polices were made in response to complaints from major advertisers over inappropriate content on the service. YouTube’s moves were criticized by some video creators who relied on the site for ad revenue.

Earlier on Tuesday, San Bruno police said a woman opened fire at YouTube’s headquarters, wounding three and sending panicked employees fleeing before taking her own life.

Female mass shooters are rare. A recent Washington Post analysis shows only three of 150 U.S. shootings with more than four victims since 1966 were carried out by women. In 2015, a husband and wife killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California.

First Published: Apr 04, 2018 11:24 IST