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.
The New Zealand government has introduced a Bill that proposes to block violent extremist content, introduce criminal offences, allow the ordering of take-down notices, and would hand the power to a chief censor to make immediate decisions on what material should be blocked. The objective of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill is to update the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 to allow for urgent prevention and mitigation of harms caused by objectionable publications. The Bill mostly applies to online publications and provides additional regulatory tools to "manage harms caused by content that is livestreamed or hosted by online content hosts". Once legislated, the live-streaming of objectionable content will be a criminal offence. As any digital reproduction of a livestream is considered a recording, publications hosting a non-real-time video are already subject to existing provisions in the Act.
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.