The woman who injured three people and killed herself with a handgun at YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California, on Tuesday has been identified as Nasim Aghdam, a YouTube user who in recent months railed against the platform.
Aghdam, a 39-year-old San Diego woman, according to police, had four known YouTube channels. According to her website, she had channels in English, Turkish, and Farsi, as well as one dedicated to “hand art,” which was devoted to the making of beaded necklaces.
In other videos, she appeared to promote veganism and animal rights, demonstrate workout routines, inveigh against capitalism, authority, and popular culture, and make bizarre parody music videos. According to USA Today, on her Instagram account, which has since been suspended, she described herself as an “Athlete Artist Comedian Poet Model Singer Host Actor Director Producer.”
Her father, Ismail Aghdam, told media outlets on Tuesday that his daughter made a living from the videos and that she had become increasingly angry about YouTube’s Feb. 20 move to demonetize smaller channels. The platform “stopped everything, and now she has no income,” he told NBC News. On Wednesday, San Bruno police said they believe her resentment toward YouTube motivated the shooting.
According to ABC News, while YouTube’s new policy demonetized channels with fewer than 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time, Aghdam’s main English channel appeared to have more than 5,000 subscribers. Many of her videos seem to have been demonetized, possibly from earlier versions of that policy change, while others appear to have been restricted by age.
On her website, where she goes by the name Nasim Sabz, she embedded a video by a more popular YouTube user complaining about demonetization and another about “YouTube’s war against vegans.” She posted screenshots of her own channel to illustrate the drop she personally experienced. “My Revenue For 300,000 Views Is $0.10?????” she wrote. Above another embedded video, she wrote, “This video got age restricted after new close-minded youtube employees, got control of my farsi youtube channel last year 2016 & began filtering my videos to reduce views & suppress & discaurage me from making videos!”
Elsewhere, in her videos, on Instagram, and on Facebook, she complained about the company. According to NBC Bay Area, she complained that one of her workout videos was age restricted, while videos for celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj, which she believed to be inappropriate for children, were not. According to the New York Times, she complained after being told her workout videos were restricted for inappropriate scenes that she was being suppressed for promoting “healthy, humane and smart living.” She argued, “People like me are not good for big business like for animal business, medicine business and for many other businesses. That’s why they are discriminating and censoring us.”
On her now-suspended Instagram, she captioned one video with, “What do you think of freedom of speech and does it really exist in western countries?”
Her website also includes, in a bold, highlighted box, a rant against authority that found its way back to the platform:
BE AWARE! Dictatorship exists in all countries but with different tactics! They only care for personal short term profits & do anything to reach their goals even by fooling simple-minded people, hiding the truth, manipulating science & everything, putting public mental & physical health at risk, abusing non-human animals, polluting environment, destroying family values, promoting materialism & sexual degeneration in the name of freedom,….. & turning people into programmed robots!
“Make the lie big, Make it simple, Keep saying it, And eventually they will believe it” Adolf Hitler… There is no free speech in real world & you will be suppressed for telling the truth that is not supported by the system. Videos of targeted users are filtered & merely relegated, so that people can hardly see their videos!
.There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!
Aghdam’s father told news outlets that he had become concerned about her growing anger and, after she stopped answering her phone for two days, reported her missing to the police on Monday. He also said he warned them she might go to YouTube, according to the Associated Press. Police in Mountain View, about 30 minutes from YouTube’s headquarters, found her sleeping in her car at 2 a.m. Police later said she told them she had left her family’s home “due to family issues” and was living from her car. They said she was “calm and cooperative” and did not mention YouTube.
According to CBS Los Angeles, when Aghdam’s father learned she was found so close to the YouTube headquarters, he told police she had said that YouTube was “ruining her life.” He said the police told him they would be watching out for her. In a Facebook post on Wednesday, however, Mountain View police said that after they called Aghdam’s family to report they had found her, they were not warned she could do something dangerous. Her father called back later to say she might have been in the area because “the company had recently done something to her videos that had caused her to become upset,” police said, but was merely proposing an explanation for her location and did not appear concerned.
Her father told reporters she had never shown any previous sign of violence, according to USA Today, and he said his family did not know of her ever owning a gun. Police confirmed in a press conference Wednesday that she legally obtained the gun she used in the shooting and said she visited a gun range in the morning before the shooting.
He told the Mercury News that the family emigrated from Iran in 1996, when she would have been around 17 years old.
According to USA Today, public records show that when Aghdam was living in San Diego, she established an animal-rights charity called Peace Thunder Inc. and trained to become a pilot.
Update, April 4 at 1:01 p.m.: This post has been updated with information from a Wednesday press conference.
Update, April 4 at 1:15 p.m.: This post has been updated with a statement from the Mountain View Police Department.