Friday, 15th March 2019, was a tragic day in Christchurch, New Zealand. A gunman attacked Muslims praying at a mosque and live-streamed the shooting on Facebook. The social network was proactive in removing the video and deleting the shooter’s account.
However, this did not stop the video from going viral. The shooter had referenced Fortnite, a hit social media game, and a popular YouTube star that goes by the name, PewDiePie. This move might have been the major reason for the unending wide circulation of the video. For every video YouTube and Facebook blocked from their platform, another two or three seem to replace it.
A Facebook New Zealand spokeswoman explained that the Police alerted them of the video on Facebook shortly after the Livestream commenced, and quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook, Instagram accounts and the video. They also added that they are removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter from the platforms.
The video, which was about 17 minutes long, was downloaded from Facebook and reuploaded on YouTube multiple times. New posts of the video kept springing up every other minute. YouTube also immediately took measures to encourage users to flag videos that showed the clip so that they can remove them. Thousands of such videos were removed within 24 hours of the shooting.
A YouTube spokesperson in a statement has described it as:
“shocking, violent and graphic content has no place on our platforms, and we are employing our technology and human resources to quickly review and remove any and all such violative content on YouTube. As with any major tragedy, we will work cooperatively with the authorities.”
Google, on behalf of its company, YouTube, would not specify what tool they are using to control the video. They only admitted to using smart-detection technology to remove the video clips. Meanwhile, Facebook is under huge criticism for allowing the live stream to go on for as long as it did.
Three people have been arrested in connection with the New Zealand mosque attack, and one suspect has already been charged with murder. 49 people were also reportedly killed and at least 20 wounded at two mosques.
Facebook says it will continue to use tech tools, human moderators and reports from the community to search for any instance of the video on the social network. It has set up a system designed to automatically detect and remove clips that are like the original audio or video. It also intends to take down any content that claims the shooting didn’t occur or that the survivors are actors.