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New Zealand attacks: Not a single watcher reported mosque gunman's live video stream, Facebook says

Link to Facebook video originally posted by gunman to controversial online messaging board 8chan

Anthony Cuthbertson
Tuesday 19 March 2019 14:20 GMT
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Christchurch mosque attacks: What we know so far

The video of last week's New Zealand terror attack was not reported by a single Facebook user who witnessed the live feed, the social media giant has revealed.

Around 200 people watched the 17-minute Facebook Live stream, but it was only flagged 12 minutes after it had ended.

A link to it was originally posted by the gunman to controversial online messaging board 8chan, along with several links to his manifesto.

Facebook earlier revealed it had removed 1.5 million videos of the attack worldwide in the 24 hours after the shootings, 1.2 million of which were blocked at upload.

The company and other social media firms have come in for intense criticism from the media and politicians over the rapid spread of the footage across the networks and around the world.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Chris Sonderby, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, said the video was viewed fewer than 200 times during its live broadcast.

"No users reported the video during the live broadcast," he added.

"Including the views during the live broadcast, the video was viewed about 4,000 times in total before being removed from Facebook.

"The first user report on the original video came in 29 minutes after the video started, and 12 minutes after the live broadcast ended.

"Before we were alerted to the video, a user on 8chan posted a link to a copy of the video on a file-sharing site."

Mr Sonderby said Facebook was "working around the clock" to prevent the video from appearing on its site.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called on social media companies to take responsibility for ensuring such content cannot be distributed or viewed on their platforms, saying they are "the publisher, not just the postman".

She told the country's parliament: "There is no question that ideas and language of division and hate have existed for decades, but their form of distribution, the tools of organisation, they are new.

"We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published.

"They are the publisher, not just the postman. There cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility."

Jacinda Ardern speaks to the house at Parliament on Tuesday (Getty Images) (Getty)

In the UK, home secretary Sajid Javid told social media companies "enough is enough" in the wake of last Friday's shootings.

Reacting to a tweet from YouTube claiming that the video-sharing service was working to remove the footage, he said: "You really need to do more YouTube Google facebook Twitter to stop violent extremism being promoted on your platforms. Take some ownership. Enough is enough."

Damian Collins, Tory chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, called for a review into how the footage was shared and "why more effective action wasn't taken to remove them".

And Downing Street said social media companies needed to act "more quickly" to remove terrorist content.

The attacks on the two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, March 15, resulted in the deaths of 50 people.

Additional reporting by agencies

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