New Zealand Massacre Shows How Users Find Ways To Share Violent Videos

A still image taken from video circulated on social media apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded shows him entering a mosque in Christchurch New Zealand

The gunman filmed and shared the attacks using a mobile phone app called LIVE4, which allows users to broadcast directly to Facebook from personal body cameras, according to the app's developer and a Reuters review of videos available online.

Frustrated with years of similar obscene online crises, politicians around the globe on Friday voiced the same conclusion: social media is failing. "What's going on here?" she said, referring to the shooter's ability to livestream for 17 minutes.

However, given the viral nature of social media, videos were still easily searched and viewed hours after the incident transpired.

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.

"We are also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we are aware", it added.

Facebook and YouTube were created to share pictures of babies, puppies and other wholesome things, he said, "but they were expanded at such a scale and built with no safeguards such that they were easy to hijack by the worst elements of humanity".

Users intent on sharing the violent video took several approaches ― doing so at times with an nearly military precision. Others shared shorter sections or screenshots from the gunman's livestream. That year, a video of a man shooting and killing another in Cleveland also shocked viewers. It starts with the attacker driving to a mosque.

Exact matches of removed material can not be uploaded again at YouTube and Facebook.


According to CNN, Facebook's human moderators and its artificial intelligence were unable to detect the launch of the livestream.

It also was using audio technology to detect Christchurch broadcast footage, in which gunshots could be heard and music played in the attacker's auto, according to a copy reviewed by Reuters.

Facebook yesterday acknowledged the challenge and said it was responding to new user reports.

Joshua Buxbaum, chief executive of Irvine, California-based moderation technology company WebPurify, said Facebook and other services could employ image recognition or other types of AI to identify copies in additional ways.

"I think if you're above a certain viewership, we need to regulate them and we need to tax them properly because it's not fair".

If Facebook wanted to monitor every livestream to prevent disturbing content from making it out in the first place, "they would have to hire millions of people", something it's not willing to do, said Vaidhyanathan, who teaches media studies at the University of Virginia.

"It's very hard to remove it", Ionescu said. "I don't care about your profits", Democratic US Senator Cory Booker, who is running for president, said at a campaign event in New Hampshire.

Reddit - which has over 20 investors, including Conde Nast owner Advance Publications - said it was actively monitoring the situation in New Zealand. "We will do whatever is humanly possible for it to never happen again".

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