Inside Facebook’s Scramble To Contain The Mosque Shooting Video
In the first 24 hours following the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand, Facebook says they have removed the video of the tragedy from their platform a staggering 1.5 million times, Reuters reports. In a series of tweets on the topic, the company acknowledged the 1.5 million removals while also indicating that the majority of them, about 1.2 million, were successfully blocked preemptively prior to upload.
Following the initial deluge of uploads of the original and unedited content, there was then a substantial influx of edited versions, many of which aimed to censor the most graphic content. Facebook took a similar stance on these altered versions, again eliminating as many as possible as they were posted.
“Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities, we’re also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content,” said Mia Garlick, representing Facebook New Zealand. Offending content, she added, was being removed through a combination of technology, referring to software-based solutions that can help identify and automatically remove videos, and people, referring to human workers who would manually scan and remove versions missed by the automated systems.
In addition to removing the video itself in all its forms, Facebook was also fast at work finding and removing comments that praised or supported the shooter or his ideology.
Garlick also shared that the social media company was working closely with authorities in New Zealand to support emergency efforts as well at the broader investigation into the shooting.
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 17, 2019
Beyond attempting cleanup of the circulating video, Facebook was actually drawn into involvement with the shooting literally as it happened. In fact, the early stages of the event were streamed live on their platform through the shooter’s own account.
“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,” the company said from their official @fbnewsroom Twitter account. Instagram, the photo and video sharing service, is owned by Facebook.
The gunman live-streamed the attacks for 17 minutes using an app geared towards extreme sports, with the copies circulating shortly thereafter.
While Facebook was the epicenter of the video’s circulation from the beginning, the video has since made its way across the internet, with many other online sharing platforms likewise scrambling to contain the content.
Reddit, the self-described “front page of the internet” likewise banned the video site-wide and began to shut down portions of the site that had become known for sharing similar content.