New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vows to never mention the suspected attacker’s name and urges others to do the same.
Facebook said a live stream broadcast by the gunman who killed 50 and wounded dozens more in New Zealand on Friday was viewed fewer than 200 times during the live broadcast.
Before the gunman entered two mosques in the city of Christchurch, he began livestreaming the rampage on Facebook and Twitter using a helmet cam. No Facebook users on the social network reported the video during the live broadcast, the company said in an online post.
Facebook removed the attacker’s video, the network says, minutes after the New Zealand police contacted them about it – 29 minutes after the video’s start and 12 minutes after it ended. In total, the original video was viewed about 4,000 times before being removed.
Despite the efforts by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Reddit, footage of the gunman’s rampage circulated online for hours after the shooting. On Sunday, Facebook said it removed or blocked 1.5 million videos of the gunman’s massacre. Most of those – more than 1.2 million – were blocked at upload, and were not seen by any users.
“We continue to work around the clock to prevent this content from appearing on our site, using a combination of technology and people,” Facebook vice president and deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby wrote in the online post.
Before Facebook was alerted to the original video and was able to remove it, the company says, a user on 8chan, an anonymous online message board, posted a link to a copy of the video on a file-sharing site.
Facebook designated both shootings in the city of Christchurch as terror attacks, and the site’s standards prohibit any representation of the events, as well as any praise and support. The named suspect’s personal Facebook and Instagram accounts were removed and the site is removing any “imposter accounts” that arise, the company said.
In addition to livestreaming his attack, the alleged shooter also posted a 74-page manifesto on Twitter and sent it to numerous officials and media outlets in New Zealand before beginning his rampage.
New Zealand prime minister: Ardern urges public to deny accused gunman’s quest for fame
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday she had contacted Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg about concerns people could still see the footage. “You can’t have something so graphic and it not (have an impact) … and that’s why it’s so important it’s removed,” she said, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Some New Zealand businesses threatened a boycott of Facebook over the shooter’s usage of the social network and its inability to prevent such horrific acts from being propagated.
“Businesses are already asking if they wish to be associated with social media platforms unable or unwilling to take responsibility for content on those sites,” The Association of New Zealand Advertisers and the Commercial Communications Council said in a statement Tuesday. “The events in Christchurch raise the question, if the site owners can target consumers with advertising in microseconds, why can’t the same technology be applied to prevent this kind of content being streamed live?”
The country’s Lotto NZ had already pulled advertising from social media because “the tone didn’t feel right in the aftermath of these events,” Reuters reported. Other companies including Burger King, the ASB Bank and telecommunications company Spark are also considering an advertising boycott, the New Zealand Herald reported.
New Zealand tragedy: Death toll rises to 50 in mosque shootings in Christchurch
Social media response: Facebook removed 1.5 million videos of New Zealand attack within 24 hours
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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