YouTube shooting suspect a vegan animal rights activist

An undated photo shows Nasim Najafi Aghdam, the animal rights activist who shot and wounded three people at YouTube's headquarters before killing herself
AFP

San Francisco (AFP) – The woman who shot three people before killing herself at YouTube was an animal rights and vegan activist angry at the social media giant for allegedly repressing videos she posted.

Police identified Iran-born Nasim Najafi Aghdam from San Diego, California, as the woman who shot and wounded three with a 9mm handgun in a rampage Tuesday in YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, a suburb of San Francisco.

She killed herself as police surrounded the Silicon Valley campus of YouTube, the internet’s leading video host.

According to the Mercury News, her father Ismail Aghdam had contacted police Monday to report her missing, telling officials she had a vendetta against YouTube.

Early Tuesday, the newspaper reported, police found her asleep in a parked car in the Silicon Valley hub of Mountain View, the home of YouTube parent Google.

San Bruno police said Wednesday her motive appeared to be related to her anger over YouTube policies, and that there were no other suspects in the case.

“Currently, there is no evidence linking Aghdam to any individuals at the scene of this incident,” said police chief Ed Barberini.

“At this point in the investigation, it is believed that the suspect was upset with policies and practices of YouTube. This appears to be the motive for this incident.”

Barberini said they had recovered a handgun registered to Aghdam, and that she had gone to a local gun range on Tuesday before driving to YouTube, where she entered the building via the parking garage.

Two women and one man were wounded, with the man reported in critical condition, one woman in serious condition, and the third person in fair condition, according to local media.

– Animal rights militant –

Aghdam, 39, was a militant who posted videos on her YouTube channels supporting animal rights and vegan causes, in English, Turkish and Farsi.

YouTube blocked several video channels she operated Wednesday, including one apparently on “hand art,” due to “severe violations” of its standards.

Some videos remained available on Aghdam’s personal website.

She was one of a number of people in the animal rights community who complained that Google-owned YouTube had placed restrictions on their postings.

She and others have also complained about YouTube’s small revenue-sharing payments for advertising that runs on their channels.

“Growing on YouTube is not in your hands,” Aghdam complained in one video. “It all depends on who is controlling your channel.” 

In addition to restricting her postings on animal mistreatment, she said, “They age-restricted my ab workout video, a video that has nothing bad in it, nothing sensual.” 

– Workout and dance videos –

On her website, where she identified herself as Nasime Sabz, she complained that even her Farsi-language videos had been age-restricted by YouTube in 2016, accusing the company of trying to reduce her number of viewers.

“There is no free speech in real world & you will be suppressed for telling the truth that is not supported by the system,” she wrote.

Amid gruesome videos of mistreatment of animals, she posted exercise and weight-lifting footage, and video and photographs of herself dancing and posing in evening dress, a skin-tight leather outfit, and full-body camouflage leotards.

One picture carried in the California press showed her at a protest against the US military’s use of animals in training, dressed in black, blood painted on her face, and wielding a plastic sword.

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