Archive for the ‘Christchurch shooting’ Category

White House refuses to sign international statement on online extremism

May 15th, 2019
White House refuses to sign international statement on online extremism

(credit: Matt Wade)

The Trump administration will not sign an international pledge by governments and online services to combat extremist content online. The Christchurch Call is named after the New Zealand city where a terrorist livestreamed the shooting deaths of 50 Muslims in March.

The statement is being formally released today as part of an international summit in Paris. It will bear the signatures of more than a dozen nations, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Leading technology companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, have also signed on. But not the US government.

"The United States stands with the international community in condemning terrorist and violent extremist content online in the strongest terms," the White House said in an emailed statement Wednesday. The US government says it will "continue to support the overall goals reflected in the Call," however, it is "not currently in a position to join the endorsement."

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NZ declares massacre video “objectionable,” arrests people who shared it

March 20th, 2019
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 18: Youngsters perform a Haka during a students vigil near Al Noor mosque on March 18, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Enlarge / CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 18: Youngsters perform a Haka during a students vigil near Al Noor mosque on March 18, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (credit: Carl Court | Getty Images)

The United States is unusual in offering near-absolute protection for free speech under the First Amendment. Most other countries—even liberal democracies—have more extensive systems of online and offline censorship. That difference has been on display this week as New Zealand authorities have begun prosecuting people for sharing copies of last week's white supremacist mass shooting in Christchurch and for posting hate speech in the wake of the attack.

New Zealand Chief Censor David Shanks has determined that the 17-minute video livestreamed during the Christchurch shooting is objectionable under New Zealand law. "It is a record of a terrorist atrocity, specifically produced for the purpose of promoting a hateful terrorist agenda," a press release from New Zealand's Office of Film and Literature Classification states.

Distributing objectionable materials online comes with stiff legal penalties. One man—the 44-year-old owner of an insulation company with alleged neo-Nazi sympathies—has been arrested and charged with two counts of distributing objectionable materials in violation of New Zealand's Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act. He is being held without bail and could be sentenced to as much as 14 years in prison for each offense.

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Facebook: No one reported NZ shooting video during 17-minute livestream

March 19th, 2019
People look on as men pray in a park near Al Noor mosque after a terrorist killed 50 people.

Enlarge / CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND—MARCH 19: People look on as men pray in a park near Al Noor mosque after a terrorist attack that killed 50 people. (credit: Getty Images | Carl Court)

Facebook says a livestream of last week's New Zealand mass shooting was viewed fewer than 200 times during its live broadcast and that nobody reported the video to Facebook while the livestream was ongoing.

"The first user report on the original video came in 29 minutes after the video started, and 12 minutes after the live broadcast ended," Facebook VP and Deputy General Counsel Chris Sonderby wrote in an update posted yesterday.

Ultimately, the original Facebook Live video of the terrorist attack "was viewed about 4,000 times in total before being removed from Facebook," the company said. Video of the attack was uploaded many times after the original was removed, and a few hundred thousand videos were viewable on Facebook before being taken down.

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Social media sites struggle to contain video of New Zealand shooting

March 15th, 2019
The shooter had a collection of guns in his car before he entered the mosque.

Enlarge / The shooter had a collection of guns in his car before he entered the mosque.

A white nationalist who murdered an estimated 49 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday livestreamed a portion of his gruesome crime on Facebook, sending social media companies scrambling to contain the spread of the video.

Major social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, have terms of service prohibiting graphically violent videos. Officials worry that wide distribution of such videos boosts the profile of mass shooters and could inspire copycats. It can also be painful for victims' families.

"Our hearts are broken over today’s terrible tragedy in New Zealand," YouTube tweeted. "Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage."

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