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Facebook May Restrict Live Video After New Zealand Attack


In the wake of the shootings that took place two weeks ago, many world leaders called on tech giants to take responsibility for the extremist materials shared on their platforms.  The Facebook live platform was used to video a shooting that killed about 50 people in two mosques during a prayer session in New Zealand. Facebook came under intense scrutiny and was asked to restrict the live video feature. It is now putting it under consideration.

About 4000 people had watched the original video before it was taken down from the platform. The social network complained about the challenges it encountered. The video was edited and shared many time, making it difficult for the intelligence machine to detect and remove.

Speaking on behalf of Facebook, the Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg said the social network has agreed to the calls for it to do more.

“All of us at Facebook stand with the victims, their families, the Muslim community, and all of New Zealand. Many of you have also rightly questioned how online platforms such as Facebook were used to circulate horrific videos of the attack. We have heard feedback that we must do more and we agree.”

Facebook had earlier announced that about 200 people were live at the time of the Christchurch shootings, while the first user report came in 12 minutes after the video had ended. However, the video went viral within seconds, 4000 people watched it before it was taken down. Facebook announced in its Newsroom page that it removed 1.5 million videos of the attack and blocked 1.2 million copies on the verge of upload within 24 hours.

Although Ms. Sandberg did not make an official announcement concerning the changes likely to take effect, she outlined how Facebook would take preventive measures to address hate on its platform and block materials from terrorist groups.

Other tech companies have taken steps to prevent the video from going viral further. Reddit banned a discussion forum called “watchpeopledie” after supposed shared clips of the live video.

Even though social media firms struggled to contain the horrific event that led to the death of 50 people, the privacy commissioner expressed his grief and disappointment to Facebook on how it is handling the situation. In a shared mail with the executives of Facebook, he said:

It will be difficult for you and your colleagues to overestimate the growing frustration and anger here at Facebook’s facilitation of and ability to mitigate the deep, deep pain and harm from the live-streamed massacre of our colleagues, family members and countrymen broadcast over your network. Your silence is an insult to our grief.”

Facebook says it’s working with the New Zealand police on the matter.

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