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A YouTube sign is shown across the street from the company's offices in San Bruno, Calif., Tuesday, April 3, 2018. A woman opened fire at YouTube headquarters Tuesday, setting off a panic among employees and wounding several people before fatally shooting herself, police and witnesses said.
AP Images/Jeff Chiu
YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, CA
WHAT WE KNOW

The YouTube shooter was an animal rights activist who “hated” YouTube for demonetizing her videos

Josh Horwitz
By Josh Horwitz

Asia Correspondent

Details are trickling out on the identity of the woman who shot three employees at YouTube’s headquarters in northern California on Tuesday (April 3), before killing herself.

San Bruno police named the suspect as Nasim Najafi Aghdam, a 39-year-old resident of San Diego, Calif. They added that there was “no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted.”

The Mercury News interviewed Aghdam’s father, who said that before the shooting he he had informed police that his daughter had gone missing and she might be at YouTube because she “hated” the company.

Aghdam was a prolific YouTuber. According to Buzzfeed and NBC, she published numerous videos in English, Farsi (her family is Iranian-American), and Turkish. A vocal animal rights activist, some of the videos showed Aghdam making vegan recipes, while others showed graphic images of animal abuse (One is titled “Animals are skinned alive on Chinese fur farms”). Yet others showed her doing simple workout routines. Aghdam’s pages on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are no longer accessible, but her website remains up and running.

Speaking to the Mercury News, Aghdam’s father said that she had grown angry after YouTube reduced her ability to earn ad revenues from her videos. Many of her videos reportedly showed her complaining about what she believed was censorship on YouTube, and she alleged on her website that the video platform was targeting her unfairly. Text from her homepage reads:

BE AWARE! Dictatorship exists in all countries but with different tactics! They only care for personal short term profits & do anything to reach their goals even by fooling simple-minded people, hiding the truth, manipulating science & everything, putting public mental & physical health at risk, abusing non-human animals, polluting environment, destroying family values, promoting materialism & sexual degeneration in the name of freedom,….. & turning people into programmed robots! “Make the lie big, Make it simple, Keep saying it, And eventually they will believe it” Adolf Hitler… There is no free speech in real world & you will be suppressed for telling the truth that is not supported by the system. Videos of targeted users are filtered & merely relegated, so that people can hardly see their videos! There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!

 

Demonetization—YouTube’s efforts to restrict a channel’s ability to earn ad revenues if its algorithms determine it contains inappropriate content—has long been a fraught issue for YouTube’s creators. Efforts late last year to curb ads from appearing next to potentially offensive videos in the wake of news reports that pointed out these juxtapositions saw some channels lose 80% of sales, Bloomberg reported.

The company has not always been transparent about how its algorithms make its decisions, or when certain channels are demonetized.

Police, however, say they are still investigating the motive for Aghdam’s shooting. When asked for comment, a spokesperson for Google, YouTube’s parent company, directed Quartz to its Twitter page, which contained messages from Google CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

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