How much are social media companies to blame for the hate that spreads on their platforms? Last month's attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, were livestreamed on Facebook. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told ABC News last week his company needs to act faster to take down videos with violent, hateful content. In the case of New Zealand, he said Facebook took down more than a million copies of the video, but other versions kept cropping up. MARK ZUCKERBERG: One of the things that this flagged for me overall was the extent to which bad actors are going to try to get around our systems.
New Zealand's privacy commissioner has lashed out at social media giant Facebook in the wake of the Christchurch attacks, calling the company "morally bankrupt pathological liars". The commissioner used his personal Twitter page to lambast the social network, which has also drawn the ire of prime minister Jacinda Ardern for hosting a livestream of the attacks that left 50 dead, which was then copied and shared all over the internet. "Facebook cannot be trusted," wrote John Edwards. "They are morally bankrupt pathological liars who enable genocide (Myanmar), facilitate foreign undermining of democratic institutions. "[They] allow the live streaming of suicides, rapes, and murders, continue to host and publish the mosque attack video, allow advertisers to target'Jew haters' and other hateful market segments, and refuse to accept any responsibility for any content or harm.
Yesterday, tech giants and several countries pledged to take more steps to block hate and terrorist content online. This pledge is known as the Christchurch Call. Two months ago, deadly attacks on Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, were livestreamed on Facebook. PRIME MINISTER JACINDA ARDERN: Christchurch Call to Action, an action plan for change, is a global response to a tragedy that occurred on the shores of my country but were ultimately felt around the world. KING: Now, the Trump administration has declined to endorse this pledge.
Two weeks after a terrorist used Facebook to broadcast live video while he massacred 50 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand, the company has broken its silence in the country by publishing a letter from Sheryl Sandberg in the New Zealand Herald. Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, said the company is "exploring" placing restrictions on who can live stream video on Facebook, but did not announce any actual policy changes. "All of us at Facebook stand with the victims, their families, the Muslim community, and all of New Zealand," she wrote. "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." The letter follows weeks of sustained criticism in New Zealand over Facebook executives' lack of responsiveness to the grieving nation.
Ten New Zealanders who downloaded an app on Facebook could have exposed up to 63,714 of their compatriots to the data mining tactics of Cambridge Analytica. Facebook has told the country's privacy commissioner that it is in the process of alerting New Zealanders who were affected by the breach, which occurred when ten users downloaded a personality quiz app. "For New Zealand, we estimate a total of 63,724 people may have been impacted – 10 are estimated to have downloaded the quiz app with 63,714 friends possibly impacted," said Antonia Sanda, head of communications for Facebook in Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand's privacy commissioner, John Edwards, said he was urgently seeking further information from Facebook on how New Zealanders data was used by Cambridge Analytica, and is working closely with his counterparts in the US, UK Australia and Canada to establish the severity and ramifications of the privacy beach. "I think we have some real information deficits that I hope my colleagues in the UK and the US will uncover ... I am not sure New Zealanders were'targeted' but I think there is a level of complacency [in New Zealand].