The families of victims and the survivors of the Buffalo mass shooting were back in New York state Supreme Court Friday for their civil cases.

This time attorneys made the case that social media companies bear some liability for the deadly attack on May 14, 2022.

Attorneys representing victims' families and survivors say that social media platforms and their parent companies like Meta, YouTube, 4chan and Snapchat make products that are addictive to young people and in some cases helped radicalize convicted killer Payton Gendron with racist and violent content.

Lawyers for those social media companies say those claims should be dismissed, arguing they cannot be held liable for third party content posted on their platforms and actions individuals take because of what’s posted there, nor did they have any direct relationship with Gendron. 

Lawyers for online platform 4chan, which was used by Gendron, argued since the company is not located in New York, it does not do business in the state and doesn’t fall under its jurisdiction. The plaintiffs lawyers say they advertise on their site, so that constitutes business in New York.

Another attorney said Snapchat was among the worst social media platforms for mental health and helped start Gendron’s internet addiction.

There were also arguments over whether those social media platforms are considered products or services, about objectionable third party content and the First Amendment.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say those platforms are designed and targeted to be addictive, post no warnings about that, profited off content they host which helped to radicalize Gendron, who ultimately posted a livestream video of the killing spree that ended up on various social media sites. They say those platforms present a public safety threat — and the families of those devastated by the shooting want that to change. 

"How do they not have to tell people about the dangers of their products?" said Garnell Whitfield, the son of Ruth Whitfield, who was killed by Gendron. "Everything we do in our society, everything we have — whether it’s even crossing the street, there’s a warning light. On a label, there’s warnings about proper use. Absolutely, that would help."

"Just because it’s different from 50 years ago doesn’t mean it’s not a product," said Diandra Debrosse, attorney for the plaintiffs. "Social media applications are a product. Mark Zuckerberg calls it a product. It’s a product and they’re responsible for part of what happened here in Buffalo."

New York State Supreme Court Justice Paula Feroleto will decide on the motions to dismiss and whether the cases against those companies can continue.

At the center of it all — are social media companies responsible for what’s posted on their sites and the actions people take because of it? It’s a question that will continue to be asked throughout this civil case.