YouTube, Facebook, Twitter scrambling to contain video of New Zealand mosque shooting

Brenton Tarrant

The live footage of Friday's attacks, New Zealand's worst-ever mass shooting, was first posted to Facebook and has since been shared on Twitter, Alphabet Inc's YouTube and Facebook-owned Whatsapp and Instagram.

Facebook, Google and Twitter have had staff across time zones working around the clock in coordination with their various artificial intelligence platforms to track down and remove the video.

Action was not taken to remove it until New Zealand police alerted Facebook.

Facebook "helped provide a platform for today's horrific attack and will undoubtedly be called into question for facilitating the spread of this", said Clement Thibault, analyst at financial data website Investing.com.

Sky Network Television, New Zealand's biggest satellite television provider, removed Sky News Australia from its platform, citing concerns about the broadcasting of "distressing footage" from the attacker.

Facebook and YouTube did not immediately respond to HuffPost's request for comment on the matter. Copies reviewed by Reuters showed that some users had recorded the video playing on their own phones or computers to create a new version with a digital fingerprint different from the original to evade companies' detection systems. In another case, the video was shared by a verified Instagram user in Indonesia with more than 1.6 million followers.

But that's just a drop in the bucket of what is needed to police the social media platform, said Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of "Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy".

Mia Garlick, of Facebook in New Zealand, said: "We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues".

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"What's going on here?" she said, referring to the shooter's ability to livestream for 17 minutes.

Hours after the shooting, Reddit took down two subreddits known for sharing video and pictures of people being killed or injured -R/WatchPeopleDie and R/Gore - apparently because users were sharing the mosque attack video.

"The responsibility for content of the stream lies completely and exclusively on the person who initiated the stream". How did the tech companies, in which we have entrusted so much of our personal information and on whom we count to put a check on spreading of extremist content, fail so miserably when the time for action came?

The YouTube sensation has been engaged in an online battle over which channel is the most subscribed to, and his followers have taken to posting messages encouraging others to "subscribe to PewDiePie".

A spokesman for New Zealand's interior ministry said the video is likely to be classified as objectionable content under local law, and could be illegal to share.

"The content of the video is disturbing and will be harmful for people to see", he said.

YouTube released a statement saying it was "working vigilantly" to remove the footage.

Satellite navigational audio could also be heard in the video as he drove to the mosque. "Groups have deliberately spread it and those accounts should be closed down".

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