YouTube shooting: how video fiend channelled her fury

World

YouTube shooting: how video fiend channelled her fury

From pop parodies to veganism and animal rights, Nasim Aghdam built a sprawling social media presence

Mike Wright

The woman identified by police as the shooter at YouTube’s California headquarters was a prolific user of the video-sharing service.
Nasim Aghdam left behind an extensive archive of videos she made of rambling parodies of Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj videos, and in which she aired her strong convictions about veganism, animal rights and sexual morals.
The 39-year-old native Iranian also used her platforms to vent her anger at YouTube, which she accused of “discriminating” against her channel and restricting its  audience.Her social media posts came to light after a woman approached the Google-owned company’s campus in San Bruno and opened fire with a handgun before entering the building.One man and two women were shot in the incident before the female shooter reportedly committed suicide by turning her gun on herself.
Aghdam’s family have since said she was “angry” with YouTube and they had reported her missing to police, warning them she “might do something”.
Built a following
Aghdam, who moved to California from Iran in 1996, had garnered tens of thousands of followers on social media through her pro-vegan and animal rights output.
She had accounts in English and Farsi on Instagram, Facebook and the messaging app Telegram, as well as YouTube, and tended to post under a pseudonym, Nasime Sabz.
Her main YouTube account had more than 5,000 subscribers and its videos had accrued more than a million views.However, her largest following was on Instagram where she had more than 70,000 followers combined on her English and Farsi accounts.
Most of her social media presence has been deleted from the various platforms in the wake of the shooting.
All about the animals
The majority of Aghdam’s videos focused on veganism and animal rights activism. Her website shared numerous links to videos depicting acts of animal cruelty or graphic scenes of meat and fur production.
To convey her message she produced a number of music videos in which she railed against the consumption of meat and urged people to turn to veganism.
In one she sang: “Nice to meet you can I kiss you! I could show you hidden things.“Pain, sadness, hell, crime saw your food, oh my brain look at that meat, it looks like your next heart attack.”
Aghdam’s Instagram accounts also majored heavily on her vegan message. She often posted images of animals being killed with emotive captions such as: “Cow says goodbye to her mother who was murdered in front of her eyes because of omnivorism.”
In another post she said: “Some omnivores say: Hitler was a vegetarian, so vegetarians are not good! Interesting point: No one talks about many omnivore criminals/terrorists?!”
Sex and pop parodies
One of Aghdam’s motifs was to dress up as famous pop stars and parody their videos while replacing their lyrics with her own political message.
Among the pop stars she mimicked were Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez and Nicki Minaj. The lyrics to these videos were often rambling and discursive and also attacked the consumption of alcohol and promiscuity as well as meat eating.In an Instagram parody of Minaj, Aghdam sang: “No manners in the club, no alcohol-free drinks in the club. Because we are gonna promote unhealthiness tonight. More alcohol, pour it up.”Sexual mores were a recurrent theme in her videos and in another, translated from Farsi, she railed against anal sex as “against the natural order”.
Not all of her parodies had a moral dint, and one posted on Daily Motion showed Aghdam interpolated into an America’s Got Talent scene in which she showed off a ninja routine. The video ends with the judges giving her a standing ovation and Simon Cowell praising her act as “really, really, really special”.
Cooking and fitness
Interspersed with Aghdam’s output on political and moral issues were videos and content focused on vegan lifestyle and fitness.
She posted numerous videos showing how to create and cook vegan dishes as well as clips of her demonstrating exercise regimes.
One titled “Nasim Strength Exercise” showed her doing squats for a minute.
Another, which later became a focus of contention with YouTube, showed her demonstrating an abs workout with various types of crunches and sit-ups.
Down the tube
Aghdam first complained that YouTube was “discriminating” against her videos in October 2016 and it was an issue she mentioned more frequently in recent months.
On her website she posted screen grabs claiming to show that some of her videos had been age-restricted and demonetised.In a video she made on the subject, she said: “How to grow on YouTube? Make stupid videos. The more stupid videos you make the more successful you will be.“Never talk about moral and humane issues, never talk about your own life, otherwise you will be discriminated and censored.”One issue that particularly angered Aghdam was when her abs video was allegedly age-restricted. In a video posted in January she complained that the video had nothing “sexual” in it and then posted a clip of a YouTube video of Nicki Minaj performing in a suggestive manner during a concert as an example of something that had not been age restricted.
She added: “This is what they are doing to weekend activists and many other people who try to promote healthy, humane and smart living.”
YouTube declined to comment on Aghdam’s videos and said it was co-operating with police over the incident.
– © The Daily Telegraph

This article is reserved for Sunday Times Daily subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times Daily content.

Sunday Times Daily

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.

Next Article