Horrific terror broke in New Zealand that left 49 innocent people dead and numerous others seriously injured after gunmen opened fire at two mosques on Friday. The deadly mass shooting not only shook the nation but the entire world. With condolences and messages of grief being shared by people from all over the world, disturbing videos of the violence and the aftermath were widely spread across various platforms.
One of the shooters involved in the terror attack also live streamed the horrific shooting and posted the video on various social media platforms, including Facebook. It was only a matter of time before the gory content went viral as people started sharing videos of New Zealand mosque shootings.
In a matter of hours, the videos of the mosque shootings crossed thousands of views. Even though Facebook, YouTube and Twitter said they removed the original videos of the mosque shooting, people claimed to have found videos in circulation on the platforms.
"We are deeply saddened by the shootings in Christchurch today. Twitter has 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," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.
Twitter said it suspended the account from which the original video was posted and it is in the process of removing copies from the platform.
"Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the live-stream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter's Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video. We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we're aware," said Mia Garlick of Facebook's New Zealand office.
Facebook has been under attack for its live-stream feature on more than one occasion. After a series of suicides were reportedly live-streamed on Facebook, the world's largest social networking platform came up with new measures and policies to detect people expressing thoughts of suicide in live videos using AI.
But none of the existing efforts in place to identify disturbing content helped act Facebook on its own. It had to be notified by the police about the video before taking it down, raising questions about how seriously Facebook takes such matters at the time of urgency.
Google was also called out for its lack of commitment to removing the mosque shooting videos from its platform. Even though the original video is removed, the video sharing platform allows users to post videos once downloaded. A lot of users have expressed deep disregard for Google's efforts in the matter.
"While Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter all say that they're cooperating and acting in the best interest of citizens to remove this content, they're actually not because they're allowing these videos to reappear all the time," said Lucinda Creighton, a senior adviser at the Counter Extremism Project, an international policy organization told CNN.
"The tech companies basically don't see this as a priority, they wring their hands, they say this is terrible. But what they're not doing is preventing this from reappearing," Creighton added.
I think I may have reached my moment of total despair. The full video is all over YouTube. All over Facebook. Look, a single upload on FB - 23,000 views in 1 hour. And 1000s out there. We just cannot let Facebook & Google continue to operate beyond the law. It's insane pic.twitter.com/lCvN6o5qsE— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) March 15, 2019
It's disturbing to see such hurtful and horrific videos be shared without due diligence. While major corporations such as Google, Facebook and Twitter fail to act in a responsible manner, it is upon users to practice caution and refrain from sharing videos. Such a practice only favours the terrorists' motives, spread hate and fear among people.
"What I would tell the public is this: Do you want to help terrorists? Because if you do, sharing this video is exactly how you do it," Steve Moore, a retired supervisory special agent for the FBI, told CNN.