Social media companies move fast to remove Christchurch suspect’s video and suspend accounts

Footage from the attack spread quickly on social media

A still image taken from video circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded, shows him driving in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019.   Social Media Website/Handout via REUTERS TV  ATTENTION EDITORS -  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
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The horror of the terror attack in New Zealand directed at mosques in Christchurch was compounded by the fact that part of it was broadcast live and the footage shared through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

New Zealand police alerted Facebook to the suspect’s live video broadcast shortly after it began, and the company quickly took it down, said Facebook public policy manager Shaarik Zafar.

“We’re also removing any praise or support for the crime and we’ll continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues,” Mr Zafar said.

The social media giant says it has a team now dedicated to removing any future content that might praise the terror act.

Some clips from the attack footage were also shared on YouTube, prompting it to try to stop the videos from spreading.

“Our hearts are broken over today’s terrible tragedy,” YouTube tweeted on its main Twitter handle. “Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage.”

On Twitter, a user calling himself Brenton Tarrant, who some believe to be the shooting suspect, published pictures of guns, ammunition and a military vest ahead of the attack. He also posted links to a racist manifesto explaining his motivation for the attack.

Twitter quickly deactivated the account, but it was still archived by other websites.

"We are deeply saddened by the shootings in Christchurch today," Twitter spokesperson Kate Hayes said in an email to The National. "Twitter has rigorous processes and a dedicated team in place for managing exigent and emergency situations such as this. We also co-operate with law enforcement to facilitate their investigations as required."

Others at Twitter said Tarrant’s account was suspended and the company was working quickly to remove the video from the service.