The suspect in Tuesday’s shooting at YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California, has been identified as Nasim Aghdam, who reportedly held negative views about the video platform. Her motive is still unknown, but the conspiracy theories and misinformation bubbled up fast.
A more radical theory asserts that the 39-year-old might have been an artificially intelligent robot. One YouTuber combed through Aghdam’s old videos (her YouTube and Dailymotion channels have since been deleted), as well as Google image searches, and remarked on the uncanniness of her appearance and how her facial expression doesn’t change. But this is an aesthetic on YouTube (Poppy is a popular example).
The video also mentions Pizzagate and alleges that the shooting might have been “orchestrated,” so YouTube could “gain some sort of sympathy from the general public.”
Other videos label Aghdam as a crisis actor or “Illuminati pawn,” try to figure out her motive via tarot reading, or claim the shooting had Satanic connections.
The flood of conspiracy theory videos after shootings has become a major issue for YouTube, especially after February’s Parkland shooting. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki proposed a fix during SXSW last month, but it was criticized as too little too late.
Aghdam was real. She has a family, and her father told authorities that she “hated” YouTube because it censored and demonetized her content. This is a concern other YouTubers have voiced over the last year, too.
Overall, there wasn’t the same volume of misleading trending videos after the YouTube shooting as there was for the Parkland shooting, which signals that YouTube’s new practices might be working. But the minefield of misinformation still exists beyond the platform.