Major world social media remove shooting video of NZ terror attacks

17 March, 2019, 12:16 | Author: Wade Massey
  • A still image taken from video circulated on social media apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded shows him entering a mosque in Christchurch New Zealand

Social media platforms Facebook and Twitter said on Friday they would take down content involving mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques that killed at least 49 people and wounded more than 20.

"Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter's Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video", Facebook said on its Twitter account.

Facebook is "removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we're aware", she said.

Mia Garlick, of Facebook in New Zealand, said, "We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues".

But hours after the attack copies of the video were still available on Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc's YouTube, as well as Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp.

On Twitter, YouTube stated that it is "working vigilantly to remove any violent footage" on its platform, indicating that the content had spread rapidly online and suggesting social media companies are finding it challenging to rein in.

Politicians in multiple countries said social media companies need to be more vigilant. "There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque", he said.

Buzzfeed reporter Ryan Mac, for instance, noted that YouTube's algorithm and moderation team flagged the videos as sensitive, but could still be viewed after consenting.

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New Zealand police urged people not to share the footage, and many internet users called for tech companies and news sites to take the material down.

"While Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter all say that they're cooperating and acting in the best interest of citizens to remove this content, they're actually not because they're allowing these videos to reappear all the time", Lucinda Creighton, a senior adviser at the Counter Extremism Project, an worldwide policy organization told CNN.

With billions of users, Facebook and YouTube are "ungovernable" at this point, said Vaidhyanathan, who called Facebook's livestreaming service a "profoundly stupid idea".

The videos show the gunman driving to one mosque, entering and shooting randomly at people inside.

At one point, the shooter even paused to give a shout-out to one of YouTube's top personalities, known as PewDiePie, with tens of millions of followers, who has made jokes criticized as anti-Semitic and posted Nazi imagery in his videos.

A Facebook account bearing the same name as the alleged gunman apparently livestreamed the massacre on Facebook, and a manifesto was posted on a Twitter account by the same name as well.

"Social media has certainly shifted global security risks", said Anwita Basu, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Other violent crimes that have been live-streamed include a father in Thailand in 2017 who broadcast himself killing his daughter on Facebook. The shooting begins about six minutes into a 17-minute video reviewed by Reuters. "We stand here and condemn, absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist", Morrison said.

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