New Zealand suffered a horrific attack on Friday afternoon when a gunman opened fire on two mosques in the city of Christchurch, killing multiple people who, just minutes, earlier had been in the middle of their afternoon prayers. In another sick twist to the already horrifying tale, the shooter decided to live stream part of his attack.
Of course, with social media and its users being who they are, people have reportedly been sharing the terrible footage for some reason. When social media sites, including Facebook and Instagram, were notified that the shooter had posted footage, they immediately closed his account and removed the footage.
“New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video,” Mia Garlick, Facebook’s director of policy for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement following the shooting, per CNN.
Unfortunately, according to CNN, they weren’t quite quick enough. Hours later, the footage is still cropping up on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as people continue to share the video across their own timelines and accounts.
The continued existence of the heinous footage has called into question the ability of social media sites to regulate the content that appears on their services, despite how all of them have “community standards” of some kind.
Breaking News: A man was charged with murder in the New Zealand mosque attacks that killed at least 49 people. The carnage was partly streamed on Facebook. https://t.co/0OYBDtwnwM
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 15, 2019
Facebook is “removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware,” Garlick said.
It seems that none of the sites were able to pick up the existence of the video on their platform prior to being notified by the New Zealand police. All three have said they are working to remove the video from all corners of the platforms, but the continued sharing from their users is making that a more difficult task.
In response, the New Zealand police have issued a plea to social media users to cease sharing and remove the video from their own accounts. However, they are not alone, as law enforcement officials from around the world have warned people not to share the footage.
CNN legal enforcement analyst Steve Moore, a retired supervisory special agent for the FBI, has warned of the kind of damage sharing the footage could actually do.
“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,” Moore said. “Do not share the video or you are part of this.”
Moore warned that circulating footage could only serve to “inspire copycats” to carrying out similar deeds around the world.