Published: Sun, March 17, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Social media giants say taking action to remove Christchurch shooting content

Social media giants say taking action to remove Christchurch shooting content

Facebook, Twitter, Google's YouTube and other social media platforms are scrambling to contain the spread of videos and other material related to shootings at two mosques that marked the deadliest attack in New Zealand history.

Facebook said it was alerted by police to the livestream on its site, and "quickly removed the shooter's Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video".

"We are also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we are aware", it added.

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs said in a statement that the video footage is "likely to be objectionable content under New Zealand law" and that "people who share the video of the shooting today in Christchurch are likely to be committing an offence". "Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage", YouTube said in a tweet. "The content of the video is disturbing and will be harmful to people to see", he said.

Meanwhile, tech companies such as Facebook were working to take down the video, Fox News reported.

All platforms encourage reporting such videos.

"Our hearts are broken over today's bad tragedy in New Zealand", YouTube, which is operated by Google, said in a Twitter posting.

Because it's 2019, and livestreaming has had five years or so to really build up into a mainstream activity that people actually do, this means that horrific acts of violence and terror around the world have a greater-than-zero chance of having some video component attached to them. Many shooting games allow players to toggle between close-range and long-range weapons, and the gunman switched from a shotgun to a rifle during the video, reloading as he moved around.

New Zealand massacre shows how online users find ways to share violent videos

Adding to the challenge for social media sites, once original videos are pulled, different versions from downloaded or recorded copies start cropping up, and the never-ending cycle continues.

Yesterday, just before the alleged gunman opened fire in Christchurch, he urged viewers to subscribe to the popular YouTube channel PewDiePie, which itself has been criticised for posting offensive footage in the past.

The rampage's broadcast "highlights the urgent need for media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to use more artificial intelligence as well as security teams to spot these events before it's too late", Ives said.

In August a year ago, a shooting at a Madden NFL 19 video-game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, was captured on live video.

Reddit, meanwhile, banned forums named "gore" and "watchpeopledie" where the videos were posted and commented upon by users.

Other violent crimes that have been live-streamed on the internet include a father in Thailand in 2017 who broadcast himself killing his daughter on Facebook Live.

U.S. President Donald Trump posted a tweet condemning the "horrible massacre", as did former leader Barack Obama. 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.


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