Social media giants scramble to remove live stream of Christchurch mosque attack

17 March, 2019, 12:16 | Author: Myra Gill
  • New Zealand

"We are working to have any footage removed".

The New Zealand national flag is flown at half-mast on a Parliament building in Wellington on March 15, 2019, after a shooting incident in Christchurch. In another case, the video was shared by a verified Instagram user in Indonesia with more than 1.6 million followers. The user did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

But that's just a drop in the bucket of what is needed to police the social media platform, said Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of "Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy". Facebook says it does not want to act as a censor, as videos of violence, such as those documenting police brutality or the horrors of war, can serve an important objective.

A former programmer at Facebook calls for stricter regulation of social media after a terrorist attack in New Zealand was streamed live on Facebook. Earlier past year, YouTube star Logan Paul posted a clip of a dead body hanging from a tree in Japan, prompting the Google-owned video portal to remove his channels from a preferred advertising program. "It is ever clearer that YouTube, in particular, has yet to grapple with the role it has played in facilitating radicalization."Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all said they were taking action to remove the videos".

In footage that at times resembled scenes from a first-person shooter video game, the mosque shooter was seen spraying terrified worshippers with bullets, sometimes re-firing at people he had already cut down.

One journalist tweeted that several people sent her the video via the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging app.

If Facebook wanted to monitor every livestream to prevent disturbing content from making it out in the first place, "they would have to hire millions of people", something it's not willing to do, said Vaidhyanathan, who teaches media studies at the University of Virginia.


He said the company condemned "the actions of these awful persons and their disgusting use of our app for these purposes".

New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs said people posting the video online risked breaking the law. "That's unacceptable, it should have never happened, and it should have been taken down a lot more swiftly". "We are working with social media platforms, who are actively removing this content as soon as they are made aware of an instance of it being posted".

But private online communities dedicated to violent content were still looking for ways to share copies of the video.

Reddit - which has over 20 investors, including Conde Nast owner Advance Publications - said it was actively monitoring the situation in New Zealand. "Groups have deliberately spread it and those accounts should be closed down".

Twitter similarly said that they have suspended an account related to the shooting and are working to completely remove the video from the platform.

"Any content containing links to the video stream are being removed in accordance with our site-wide policy", it said.

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