Facebook, Twitter, YouTube working to remove New Zealand shooting content

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.

A suspected gunman broadcast live footage on Facebook of the attack on one mosque in the city of Christchurch, mirroring the carnage played out in video games, after publishing a “manifesto” in which he denounced immigrants.

The video footage, posted online live as the attack unfolded, appeared to show him driving to one mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people inside.

The New Zealand national flag is flown at half-mast on a Parliament building in Wellington on March 15, 2019, after a shooting attack in Christchurch.

The New Zealand national flag is flown at half-mast on a Parliament building in Wellington on March 15, 2019, after a shooting attack in Christchurch.

Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images

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Worshippers, possibly dead or wounded, lay huddled on the floor, the video showed. Reuters was unable to confirm the authenticity of the footage.

“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 tweeted.

“We’re also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware.”

Twitter said it had “rigorous processes and a dedicated team in place for managing exigent and emergency situations” such as this.

“We also cooperate with law enforcement to facilitate their investigations as required,” it said.

Alphabet Inc’s YouTube said: “Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage.”


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A journalism watchdog group, FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, called on the RCMP to open a probe into whether Facebook and YouTube’s broadcast of the attack constitutes a criminal offence in Canada.

“Facebook and YouTube, as well as other social media platforms, broadcast a suspected hate crime without modification, to billions of people, including millions of Canadians,” executive director Daniel Bernhard said in a statement on Friday.

“It’s not OK to broadcast a hate crime in Canada. By amplifying this massacre and promoting it to Canadians without context, YouTube, Facebook, and other social media companies may have committed crimes of their own.”

Police investigate a property at Somerville Street on March 15, 2019 in Dunedin, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead, with more than 40 people injured following attacks on two mosques in Christchurch.

Police investigate a property at Somerville Street on March 15, 2019 in Dunedin, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead, with more than 40 people injured following attacks on two mosques in Christchurch.

Dianne Manson/Getty Images

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Live streaming services have become a central component of social media companies’ growth strategy in recent years, but they are also increasingly exploited by some users to livestream offensive and violent content.

In 2017, a father in Thailand broadcast himself killing his daughter on Facebook Live. After more than a day, and 370,000 views, Facebook removed the video.

That year, a video of a man shooting and killing another in Cleveland also shocked viewers.

With files from Global News

© 2019 Reuters

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