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After two recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump said his administration would ask social media companies to develop tools that could detect potential mass shooters.
While delivering a speech on the recent violence, Trump said “we must do a better job of identifying and acting on early warning signs,” and he suggested social media companies could develop new ways of catching “red flags.”
“I am directing the Department of Justice to work in partnership with local state and federal agencies, as well as social media companies, to develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike,” Trump said in the speech.
While the president did not specify what those “tools” might look like, Trump seemed to be suggesting that companies could use predictive software to single out potential shooters based on their activity on a platform. Crucially, this would mean taking action before a person commits violent crimes. Data-mining tools are in wide use, but creating a detection system for violence would inevitably raise a host of privacy and accountability issues.
Trump, who suggested on Twitter earlier in the morning that the news media “contributed greatly to the anger and rage” in the United States, also used his time at the podium to condemn “gruesome and grizzly video games that are now commonplace,” saying they create a culture that “celebrates violence.”
Trump’s speech, however, largely skirted the question of gun control legislation. On Twitter today, the president also called for bipartisan work on “strong background checks” but suggested tying it to changes in immigration law.