Facebook Removed 1.5 Million Videos Of New Zealand Attack, Keeping Victims Away From Another Trauma

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Facebook continues to uphold its principle to protect its users from highly-sensitive contents uploaded on the social media platform.

The social networking site announced on Sunday that it had removed 1.5 million videos of highly-sensitive footage from the shootout which happened on the two mosques in Christchurch within 24 hours of the attack.

Mia Garlick, the Facebook spokeswoman for New Zealand, said in a statement that the company continues to ‘work around the clock’ by deleting violating content from the site with the aid of specific technology and people.’ A total of 1.5 million videos of the massacre were filmed using a camera carried and strapped through a perpetrator’s body, and almost 1.2 million were already blocked at upload.

This decision was highly encouraged and influenced by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who publicly appeared on a Sunday news conference, calling for other social media giants, not just Facebook, to work on its responsibility to keep the footages from spreading.

Facebook’s response to the event is a big step towards minimalizing the effects and traumas caused by the shooting. While the country had done as much as it could to seek or remove some of the footage circulated after the attack, it needs all the help it can get to eradicate the remaining videos.

The horror began last Friday morning in New Zealand, the alleged shooter, Brenton Tarrant’s Facebook followers, were the first to know. It is because, during the shootout, he took videos and live-streamed his assault from the time he started going to Al Noor Mosque up to the time when he was firing, as well as, killing innocent lives.

However, many hours later after the terrible incident happened and the suspects arrested; others were still uploading the video to Youtube and some online media platforms. Washington Post did a keyword search related to the event such as typing the word ‘New Zealand’ on the search box, the result was an overwhelmingly long list of videos which were lengthy and showed uncensored gore views of the massacre.

Although Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have pledged to remove Tarrant’s accounts on their platforms, there were still videos and dozens of archived versions available for viewing along with the links and videos he shared.

This situation is where Facebook and other social media platforms enter, to ensure that these sensitive videos will no longer be uploaded on its site to consider the side of the victims. Seeing the horror again through videos will increase their traumas causing them to be emotionally distressed and will also delay any improvement that the country has started. Out of respect for the people affected by the terrorist attack and considering the increasing concerns of the local authorities, Facebook sees its role to protect the victims and their families from other sufferings.

Facebook, on the other hand, made its first move. It announced that it is using audio technology to detect more versions of the video spreading around its site, allowing it to catch more footage even if there isn’t an exact match to the full version streamed by the perpetrators.

Since the attack, Facebook is confident that the teams in charge for removing the videos are vigilant enough in doing its role to keep public posts in support of the massacre and other hateful posts which add to the tremor the country faces from spreading.

On Sunday, the New Zealand government informed online platforms that sharing any version of the footage even the edited and non-graphic versions is a clear violation of the law. The restrictions are not only applicable to social media sites or the internet but also to news media. Local media reported that Sky News Australia has pulled off New Zealand broadcaster for Sky TV after airing ‘distressing footage.’

Ardern believes that she is not only worried about the proliferation of videos with painful contents but also to the effects of this footage to the country, especially to the people. She acknowledged the fact that it will produce hate speech and reactions demeaning her country which can be seen as a delaying tactic and a factor as well in keeping the country from moving forward.

The prime minister also expressed her concern over the difficulty of controlling the proliferation of violent videos, and that has become a global problem for most of the social media platforms.

However, together with Facebook, Ardern is confident that each person has an active role to play. With the power of social media and its influence on society, these challenges of removing the videos will be resolved, if not today, then in the days to come.

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