Facebook under pressure to improve livestream moderation after New Zealand mosque attacks

Facebook has removed 1.5 million videos globally of the New Zealand mosque attack, livestreamed by gunman Brenton Tarrant, above, in the first 24 hours after the attack. (Handout/AFP)
Updated 19 March 2019

Facebook under pressure to improve livestream moderation after New Zealand mosque attacks

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: Facebook is facing pressure from New Zealand’s advertising industry and the country’s Privacy Commissioner for its role in distributing footage of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

The attacks, which killed 50 people, were live-streamed for almost 17 minutes on Facebook. the attack on two Christchurch mosques.

“Our concern as an industry is that live-streaming of these events becomes the new normal,” said Paul Head, chief executive of New Zealand’s Commercial Communications Council, which represents the country’s advertising agencies.

“We’re asking all of the platforms… to take immediate steps to either put in place systems, processes, algorithms or artificial intelligence that stops this kind of event,” he said.

Lindsay Mouat, chief executive of the Association of New Zealand Advertisers, confirmed some of New Zealand’s “very largest companies” were making changes to their advertising plans in light of the mosque shootings.

Both Head and Mouat agreed social media companies must consider temporarily removing live-streaming capabilities if they were unable to moderate the content.

“This simply cannot be allowed to happen again,” Head said.

New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said it was appalling that Facebook allowed the gunman to live-stream the attack for 17 minutes.

“There’s no guarantee the same thing won’t happen tomorrow,” Edwards said.

“It is simply incomprehensible and unacceptable that Facebook cannot prevent that kind of content being streamed to the world,” he said.

University of Auckland Computer Science lecturer Dr Paul Ralph said it was extremely difficult for Facebook to implement an automated system to identify a live video showing a violent crime.

“Facebook should never have launched a live-streaming service if they didn’t have a method of stopping a video ... of a terrorist act,” Dr Ralph said.

He penned an open letter, published on noted.co.nz, calling on Facebook and YouTube to confront their role in terrorism.

Live-streaming was “a feature that should have never been launched”, Dr Ralph said.

In a statement, Facebook said it was working around the clock to prevent the shooting video showing up on the platform.

They confirmed the video was uploaded to Facebook 1.5 million times, but 1.2 million of those were stopped at upload, meaning they were never published.

Muslim World League chief urges media outlets to stick to impartiality

MWL Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa meets Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Saturday. (SPA)
Updated 17 November 2019

Muslim World League chief urges media outlets to stick to impartiality

  • MWL chief meets government, religious leaders in Utah

UTAH: The secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, has arrived in Utah, US, where he was received by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. Al-Issa and Herbert met to discuss cooperation and issues of common interest to achieve shared objectives.
Al-Issa also visited the Mormon church in Utah, where he met the leader of the group and discussed ways to promote harmony among followers of different religions and cultures.
The Mormon leader and his assistants hosted a dinner for Al-Issa, in the presence of Utah government members and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Muslim diaspora.  
Elder David Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles extended his thanks to Al-Issa. “On behalf of our church and the state of Utah, I would like to thank you for your inspiring words calling to promote rapprochement among followers of different religions and cultures and combat hate speech and violent extremism,” he said.
Al-Issa took part in a Deseret News editorial board meeting in Utah, during which he reiterated the need to support rapprochement between nations and peoples and break the barriers built by distance, lack of dialogue and understanding, and false information spread by unreliable sources.
He also spoke about the need to promote moral values such as justice, tolerance and humanitarian work and support the efforts to achieve peace and harmony, especially in multi-religious, cultural and ethnic countries as well as promoting awareness about tolerance and acceptance of diversity and differences.
Al-Issa reviewed the Makkah Document that has achieved, for the first time in Islamic history, consensus among 27 sects and confessions, represented by more than 1,200 Muftis and Muslim scholars. The board praised the document and its importance.
He said that Islam was a tolerant religion that promotes justice, love and respect of diversity, stressing the importance of the media’s role in creating content and influencing public opinion.
Al-Issa urged media outlets to stick to the truth and impartiality to avoid losing credibility and compromising their mission.  
On another note, Al-Issa shed light on the Mormons’ experience in humanitarian work, citing the factories and facilities that have been established to provide food, clothes and furniture for the needy in the US.
Al-Issa was invited to visit the University of Utah, where he met its President Kevin Worthen and gave a lecture in the presence of hundreds of students and professors.
Al-Issa said that MWL’s message focused on building bridges and breaking down barriers caused by a lack of dialogue and false information, noting that all followers of religion, cultures and civilizations shared the same moral values that promote justice and harmony.