Facebook Blamed For The Lack Of Response Amid The Christchurch Massacre, Sued By A French Muslim Group

Christchurch Massacre, Facebook to blame?Photo: Gareth Watkins/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0

Facebook may be facing court soon for their failure to control the spread of the violent live broadcast of New Zealand’s Christchurch mosque shooting as a French Muslim group announced their plans to take the two social media platforms to court.

The live video of the man who carried out the horrific mosque massacre this month, was broadcasted in both Facebook and Youtube as well as other social media platforms. The French Council of The Muslim Faith (CFCM) said today that they are suing the social media platform for allowing the said broadcast.

According to Abdallah Zekri, president of the CFCM’s Islamophobia monitoring unit, the organization had launched a formal legal complaint against Facebook and Youtube in France.

The council said it was suing the French branches of the two companies for “broadcasting a message with violent content abetting terrorism, or of a nature likely to seriously violate human dignity and liable to be seen by a minor,” according to the complaint. In France, such acts can be punished by three years’ imprisonment and €75,000 (£64,000) fine.

Facebook claims that it quickly removed the video of the attack on its platform. The said attack in two mosques was carried out by a white supremacist on March 15, 2019, in Christchurch, New Zealand and killed 50 people.

Nonetheless, the recordings and other digital copies of the video in question was extensively posted and shared in Youtube – which the group claims to be the fault of Facebook for taking 29 minutes before they took down the video.

While Facebook claims that they did everything that they can do to remove the video quickly, copies of these videos remain in different social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

In the past, Facebook claims that its inability to remove the video earlier than it should was because no one has reported the live stream. However, a journalist said that it had alerted the company about it mid-attack.

Jared Holt, a reporter for Right Wing Watch, said he was alerted to the live stream and reported it during the attack. “I was sent a link to the 8chan post by someone who was scared shortly after it was posted. I followed the Facebook link shared in the post. It was mid-attack, and it was horrifying. I reported it,” Holt tweeted. “Either Facebook is lying, or their system wasn’t functioning properly.”

“I definitely remember reporting this, but there’s no record of it on Facebook. It’s very frustrating,” Holt told said. “I don’t know that I believe Facebook would lie about this, especially given the fact law enforcement is likely asking them for the info, but I’m so confused as to why the system appears not to have processed my flag.”


Meanwhile, it seems that Facebook did not just piss French people. Earlier today, New Zealand’s privacy commissioner has slammed Facebook for its lack of response to the incident.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said in an email to Facebook executives that the company failed to mitigate the pain of the victims in their family in the continued broadcast of the said video in its platform.

“It would be very difficult for you and your colleagues to overestimate the growing frustration and anger here at Facebook’s facilitation of and inability 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,” the email said.

Edwards asked Facebook to hand over account details of those who shared the video of the attack after the company announced on March 18 that fewer than 200 people watched the video while it was still live, and it was viewed a total of 4,000 times before Facebook removed it.

Facebook’s VP of global policy Monika Bickert told the Herald that she would not “weigh in” on Edwards’ demand. She said Facebook has to follow the law when it comes to divulging account details, and that normally Facebook only gives them over to police if there is “something like an imminent threat of violence.”

Last week, the chair of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security also wrote a letter to top executives of Facebook and other major tech companies urging them to do a better job in removing violent political contents.

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