Social Media Platforms Rush To Stop Spread Of New Zealand Shooting Footage

Technology

Shootings at two Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques on Friday have reignited debate over social media’s handling of violent and extremist content.

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.

The Twitter account, which violated the platform’s policies, has since been suspended and the site is working on taking down any existing video content related to the violence.

In a statement to HuffPost, a Twitter spokesperson said the company is “deeply saddened by the shootings,” noting that it has procedures for addressing such content.

“Twitter has rigorous processes and a dedicated team in place for managing exigent and emergency situations such as this,” the spokesperson added. “We also cooperate with law enforcement to facilitate their investigations as required.”

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.”

The platform also pledged to delete any sympathetic messages to the attacker or attackers. It remains unclear exactly how many perpetrators were involved.

According to CNN, Facebook’s human moderators and its artificial intelligence were unable to detect the launch of the livestream.

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.

YouTube’s handling of the footage drew criticism from British Labour Party Deputy Leader Tom Watson, who argued that if the site can’t halt the dissemination of the videos, it should suspend new uploads across the board.

Facebook and YouTube did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the matter.

At least 49 deaths have been reported with dozens more left injured since the shooting unfolded. Police have already charged a man in his 20s with murder, and three others have been taken into custody.

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