SAN BRUNO, California: An Iranian-born woman who blogged about veganism and warned that the planet was “full of injustice and disease” had accused YouTube of suppressing her videos before she opened fire at the company’s California headquarters, wounding three and killing herself.
In a series of Persian and English-language online postings, Nasim Najafi Aghdam, 39, railed against YouTube, the video-sharing site owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google. In some posts, she speaks about herself in heroic terms for surviving in a hostile world. Other pages are adorned with pictures of Aghdam scowling and wearing jewelry of her own design.
“I think I am doing a great job,” she wrote in Persian on her Instagram account. “I have never fallen in love and have never got married. I have no physical and psychological diseases. But I live on a planet that is full of injustice and diseases.”
In an English-language video posted to her YouTube account before the channel was deleted on Tuesday, Aghdam said, “I am being discriminated. I am being filtered on YouTube. I am not the only one.”
Police on Wednesday were focused on the San Diego resident’s anger at YouTube as a likely motive. The people she shot with a handgun seemed to have been chosen at random from the crowd at the company’s outdoor plaza in San Bruno, they said.
“Obviously she was upset with some of the practices or policies that the company had employed,” San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday.
A man was in critical condition and two women were seriously wounded in the attack.
The shooting came in the midst of an intense phase of a long-running debate on gun rights in the United States, following the killing of 17 students and educators at a Florida high school. While mass shootings have become a regular occurrence in the United States, they are rarely carried out by women.
Warning from family
Californian media reported that Aghdam’s family had warned authorities that she could target YouTube prior to the shooting. The San Jose Mercury News quoted her father, Ismail Aghdam, as saying he had told police that she might go to YouTube’s headquarters because she “hated” the company.
Efforts to reach her relatives by phone were unsuccessful.
Her family in Southern California recently reported her missing because she had not been answering her phone for two days, police said.
At one point Tuesday, Mountain View, California, police found her sleeping in her car and called her family to say everything was under control, hours before she walked onto the company grounds and opened fire.
A survivor of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Parkland, Florida, weighed in on the YouTube incident on Wednesday.
“The YouTube HQ shooting is proof that this is NOT just schools,” Jaclyn Corin said on Twitter Wednesday. “Our country has a GUN problem. End of story.”
Gun rights advocates have argued that more armed guards and citizens could prevent mass shootings.
YouTube has long faced complaints about alleged censorship on its site, and says it attempts to balance its mission of fostering free speech while still providing an appropriate and lawful environment for users.
In some cases involving videos with sensitive content, YouTube has allowed the videos to stay online but cut off the ability for their publishers to share in advertising revenue.
Criticisms from video makers that YouTube is too restrictive about which users can participate in revenue sharing swelled last year as the company imposed new restrictions.