Almost 200 people watched in real time Friday as a terrorist live-streamed his shooting rampage at two New Zealand mosques that left 50 people dead. And not one of them reported it to Facebook or the authorities, the social media company said Monday.
Instead, one person who saw the video decided to upload it to a file-sharing site and posted a link for anyone to download on 8chan, which is how the 17-minute video was able to be shared so widely on social networks in the aftermath of the shooting.
In an update posted Monday, Facebook said the original video of the massacre was viewed about 4,000 times in total, including the roughly 200 live views it received, before it was taken down.
“The first user report on the original video came in 29 minutes after the video started, and 12 minutes after the live broadcast ended,” said Chris Sonderby, Facebook’s deputy general counsel.
In the wake of the Christchurch massacre, New Zealand has made it illegal to watch, possess, download or share the 17-minute video of the Christchurch terror attack under the country’s Films, Videos & Publications Classification Act, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed that she would never speak the accused killer’s name.
“We’re aware that for a time after the attacks, this video was widely available on social media and many New Zealanders saw it, sometimes without meaning to,” New Zealand Chief Censor David Shanks wrote.
“It’s important people are now clear they should not view, download or share the video,” Shanks said.
On Monday a teenager was charged in a Christchurch court charged with sharing the live-stream online, as well as posting a photograph of one of the mosques attacked with the message “target acquired.”
Both Facebook and YouTube struggled to deal with the number of people trying to upload the video onto their sites last week.
Facebook said it removed about 1.5 million videos of the attack globally in the first 24 hours, with more than 1.2 million of those blocked at upload. In a statement, YouTube said: “The volume of related videos uploaded to YouTube in the 24 hours after the attack was unprecedented both in scale and speed – at times as fast as a new upload every second.”
To give a sense of the scale of the problem facing these platforms, Facebook said it had shared 800 visually-distinct videos of the massacre to a shared database maintained by the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.
Despite the steps taken by the tech giants to combat the spread of these videos, lawmakers say they are simply not doing enough.
“We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published,” Ardern said on Tuesday. “They are the publisher, not just the postman. There cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility.”
Cover image: People mourn at a makeshift memorial site near the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)