Firms in New Zealand pulls Ads from Facebook, Google after Christchurch shootings

Florence Fletcher
March 19, 2019

Technology giants were told last night "enough is enough" after the massacre of 49 people at two mosques in New Zealand was live-streamed around the world in the first "terror attack designed for social media".

Parts of the attack were live-streamed over the two platforms.

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". "It is ever clearer that YouTube, in particular, has yet to grapple with the role it has played in facilitating radicalization."Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all said they were taking action to remove the videos".

It said Sunday that it's trying to take down the video in any form, including clips of it that don't feature any graphic content as well as posts expressing praise or support for the shooting.

Valve, which runs the Steam gaming network, also said it removed more than 100 "tributes" by its members that sought to memorialise the alleged shooter.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube said they would take down content involving the mass shootings which were posted online as the attack unfolded.

The terrorists" attack, which Prime Minister Ardern said led to "one of New Zealand's darkest days, ' is the worst mass shooting in the country's history and led to the arrest of four suspects - three men and a woman. Another, a man in his late 20s, has since been charged with murder.

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"Anti-Muslim hatred is fast-becoming a global issue and a binding factor for extremist far-right groups and individuals". In 2017 it said it would hire 3,000 people to review videos and other posts, on top of the 4,500 people Facebook already tasks with identifying criminal and other questionable material for removal.

CTV News Public Safety Analyst Chris Lewis said the gunman's apparent livestream is a worrisome aspect of the attack.

This is not the first time violence like this has been viewed on social media, despite efforts to prevent it.

US Senator Mark Warner, who sits on a committee that has questioned the social media companies, said on Friday that it wasn't just Facebook that needed to be held accountable.

What's additionally concerning, aside from those who may have stumbled across the footage, was the vast numbers of people who attempted (and some succeeded) in seeking out the footage, and sharing it or posting about it, before social media companies took it down. Facebook, Twitter and other tech giants are under intense scrutiny for how they are used to spread misinformation, hate speech and graphic content. In this instance, the video was removed in minutes.

The gunman filmed and shared the attacks using a mobile phone app called LIVE4, which allows users to broadcast directly to Facebook from personal body cameras, according to the app's developer and a Reuters review of videos available online.

ASB Bank, one of the country's biggest banks and a unit of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, is in talks on whether to pull its ads from social media, a spokesman said.

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