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Texas gunman sent direct messages ahead of school shooting, Facebook says

Texas gunman sent direct messages ahead of school shooting, Facebook says

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Facebook said Wednesday that the Texas shooter sent direct messages about his attack on one of its platforms, which the social media giant learned after the school shooting.

Governor Greg Abbott told a news conference the gunman posted his plans on the social media site ahead of the attack. The shooter, whom authorities identified as 18-year-old Salvador Rolando Ramos, wrote, “I’m going to shoot my grandmother” and “I’m going to shoot an elementary school” shortly before the attack, according to Abbott.

But in a tweetFacebook spokesman Andy Stone said: “The posts described by Governor Abbott were private text messages that were discovered after the terrible tragedy.”

Another company spokesman, Joe Osborne, said the messages were sent privately but declined to say which of his social networks were used. Facebook, which was renamed Meta last year, also operates Instagram and the private messaging service WhatsApp.

Tech critics linked the Uvalde shooting to social media. The connection seems thin.

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde when the gunman opened fire. Ramos first shot his grandmother in the face, Abbott said, and she was airlifted to hospital.

Ramos’ private social media messages were revealed on Wednesday as the investigation into the shooting continues. Social media platforms have emphasized private messaging for years, and several sites have rolled out features that allow users to post temporary statuses or stories that disappear from public profiles after a certain period of time.

Facebook, along with other tech companies, has been at odds with law enforcement around the world who have been urging the social media giant to abandon plans to implement end-to-end encryption on its messaging services, as they claim it would hamper their ability to detect criminal activity. The company plans to extend encryption, which prevents third parties from being able to read message content, to Facebook and Instagram. He already uses it on WhatsApp.

It is unclear if Ramos posted any public messages that could have hinted at the shooting on any social media platform. The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District previously used an artificial intelligence-based program to analyze social media posts for potential threats years before the attack.

Before Buying Rifles, Shooter Turned Erratic, Violent, Friends Say

The school district said in a document for the 2019-20 school year, it used Social Sentinel to monitor all social media with a “connection to Uvalde as a measure to identify any possible threats that may be made against students and/or school district personnel.”

It is not known if the program was in use at the time of filming. Navigate360, which operates Social Sentinel, did not respond to a request for comment.

Social Sentinel bills itself as an artificial intelligence-based software that can analyze conversations in organizations’ emails and public social media posts to identify people at risk of inflicting harm on themselves or others. others.

Ramos seemed to have been active on Instagram before. High school classmate Nadia Reyes told The Washington Post that he posted an Instagram story two months ago in which he yelled at his mother, who he said was trying to kick him out of their home .

“He posted videos on his Instagram where the cops were there and he was calling his mom a b—- and saying she wanted to kick him out,” Reyes said. “He was screaming and talking to his mother very aggressively.”

Social media company Snap said on Wednesday it had suspended an account that may have been connected to Ramos and was also working with law enforcement.

So far, what is known of the shooter’s social media trail does not appear to show that he broadcast his plans to a large group of people, said Emerson T. Brooking, senior researcher at Digital Forensic Research. Atlantic Council Lab, which studies how information travels online. Instead, it appears the shooter sent messages, sometimes encrypted, to individuals.

Private messaging apps may not be secure

It shows the mismatch between services that analyze publicly available social media posts and the way many people now communicate online, Brooking said.

“There has been such a shift towards closed messaging platforms and ephemeral messaging,” he said.