BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A wrongful death lawsuit was filed Thursday in response to the Tops mass shooting.

The lawsuit was filed by The Social Media Victims Law Center, The Law Office of John V. Elmore, P.C., and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. A conference on the lawsuit was held Friday morning.

The lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, alleges that social media companies provided platforms that fed mass shooter Payton Gendron violent, racist content while maximizing their advertising revenue.

Gendron, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, pleaded guilty to killing 10 people and injuring three others inside the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue on May 14. Each person he killed was black.

The lawsuit names the owners of six social media platforms and streaming services; RMA Armaments, an Iowa-based body armor manufacturer; Vintage Firearms, a New York-based gun store; MEAN L.L.C., a Georgia-based custom gun accessories manufacturer; and Gendron’s parents.

The social media and streaming services are listed below:

  • Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly known as Facebook)
  • Snap, Inc.
  • Alphabet, Inc. (Google’s parent company)
  • Discord
  • Reddit
  • Amazon.com, Inc., which operates Twitch livestreaming service

The lawsuit is being brought on behalf of survivor Latisha Rogers, who was working at Tops and called 911 during the attack, and the families of victims: Andre Mackniel, Katherine “Kat” Massey, and Heyward Patterson.

A Snap spokesperson provided the following statement Friday regarding the lawsuit:

“We have a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech and discrimination of any kind. We deliberately designed Snapchat differently than traditional social media platforms and don’t allow unvetted content to go viral or be algorithmically promoted. Instead, we vet all content before it can reach a large audience, which helps protect against the discovery of potentially harmful or dangerous content.”


The owner of Vintage Firearms referred News 4 to comments he made in a New York Times article last May, in which he said, “I know I didn’t do anything wrong, but I feel terrible about it.”

According to the lawsuit, Gendron was radicalized by algorithms on the social media products he used, which fed him “increasingly racists, anti-Semitic, and violence-inducing content.”

The lawsuit says that Gendron live-streamed the shooting hoping to inspire future acts of mass violence. The live stream, through Twitch, was stopped approximately two minutes after the violence occurred but was re-posted on multiple online platforms, including Facebook and Reddit.

The lawsuit alleges that the radicalized posts Gendron engaged with also provided access to the training, equipment, and expertise he needed to plan and execute the mass shooting.

Chris Horvatits contributed to this article.

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Emily Miller is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2022. See more of her work here.