Facebook restricts Live feature, citing New Zealand shooting

Facebook is introducing a ‘one-strike’ policy for use of Facebook Live, temporarily restricting access for people who have faced disciplinary action over site usage. (Reuters)
Updated 15 May 2019

Facebook restricts Live feature, citing New Zealand shooting

  • Social media giant introducing a ‘one-strike’ policy for use of Facebook Live
  • First-time offenders will be suspended from using Live for set periods of time, the company said

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook said on Tuesday it was tightening rules around its livestreaming feature ahead of a meeting of world leaders aimed at curbing online violence in the aftermath of a massacre in New Zealand.
A lone gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch on March 15 while livestreaming the attacks on Facebook. It was New Zealand’s worst peacetime shooting and spurred calls for tech companies to do more to combat extremism on their services.
Facebook said in a statement it was introducing a “one-strike” policy for use of Facebook Live, temporarily restricting access for people who have faced disciplinary action for breaking the company’s most serious rules anywhere on its site.
First-time offenders will be suspended from using Live for set periods of time, the company said. It is also broadening the range of offenses that will qualify for one-strike suspensions.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the change addressed a key component of an initiative, known as the “Christchurch Call,” she is spearheading to halt the spread of violence online.
“Facebook’s decision to put limits on live streaming is a good first step to restrict the application being used as a tool for terrorists, and shows the Christchurch Call is being acted on,” she said in an email from her spokesman.
Facebook did not specify which offenses were eligible for the one-strike policy or how long suspensions would last, but a spokeswoman said it would not have been possible for the shooter to use Live on his account under the new rules.
The company said it plans to extend the restrictions to other areas over coming weeks, beginning with preventing the same people from creating ads on Facebook.
It also said it would fund research at three universities on techniques to detect manipulated media, which Facebook’s systems struggled to spot in the aftermath of the attack.
Ardern said the research was welcome and that edited and manipulated videos of the March 15 mosque shootings had been slow to be removed, resulting in many, including herself, seeing it played in Facebook feeds.
Facebook has said it removed 1.5 million videos globally that contained footage of the attack in the first 24 hours after it occurred. It said in a blog post in late March that it had identified more than 900 different versions of the video.
Ardern is due to lead a meeting, with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Wednesday, that seeks to have world leaders and chiefs of tech companies sign a pledge to eliminate violent content online.
“There is a lot more work to do, but I am pleased Facebook have taken additional steps today alongside the Call and look forward to a long-term collaboration to make social media safer by removing terrorist content from it,” she said.
In an opinion piece in the New York Times on Saturday, Ardern said the “Christchurch Call” would be a voluntary framework that commits signatories to put in place specific measures to prevent the uploading of terrorist content.
Ardern has not made specific demands of social media companies in connection with the pledge, but has called for them “to prevent the use of livestreaming as a tool for broadcasting terrorist attacks.”
Representatives from Facebook, Alphabet Inc’s Google, Twitter and other tech companies are expected to take part in the meeting, although Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg will not be in attendance.


White House: Trump to watch violent parody, ‘condemns it’

Updated 14 October 2019

White House: Trump to watch violent parody, ‘condemns it’

  • The parody was shown at a meeting of Trump supporters at his Miami resort
  • “This video was not approved, seen, or sanctioned” by the event’s organizers, Phillips said

WASHINGTON: The White House said Monday President Donald Trump has yet to watch a graphically violent parody video that depicts a likeness of him shooting and stabbing his opponents and members of the news media, but says he “strongly condemns it.”
The parody was shown at a meeting of Trump supporters at his Miami resort.
Journalists covering the White House have called on Trump to condemn the video, in which Trump’s critics and media members are portrayed as parishioners in a church fleeing his gruesome rampage. The fake Trump strikes the late Sen. John McCain in the neck, hits and stabs TV personality Rosie O’Donnell in the face, lights Sen. Bernie Sanders’ head on fire and shoots or otherwise assaults people whose faces are replaced with news organization logos.
Trump’s face is superimposed on a killer’s body. Among the targets: former President Barack Obama, Black Lives Matter, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Rep. Adam Schiff, who as Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is leading the impeachment inquiry of Trump.
Press secretary Stephanie Grisham says in a tweet that Trump will see the video shortly and that, “based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video.”
The video and its screening were first reported by The New York Times .
The “unauthorized video” was shown last week “in a side room” at an American Priority conference at Trump’s Doral Miami resort, the event’s organizer, Alex Phillips, said in a statement. Trump was not present for the event.
“This video was not approved, seen, or sanctioned” by the event’s organizers, Phillips said.
The White House Correspondents Association, which represents journalists covering the president, issued a statement late Sunday saying it was “horrified” by the content.
“All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the President’s political opponents,” said Jonathan Karl, WHCA president. “We have previously told the President his rhetoric could incite violence. Now we call on him and everybody associated with this conference to denounce this video and affirm that violence has no place in our society.”
The video includes the logo for Trump’s 2020 campaign but Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for the campaign, told the Times the “video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence.”
Phillips told the Times the video was played as part of a “meme exhibit” and was not associated with or endorsed by the conference “in any official capacity.” “American Priority rejects all political violence,” he said, and is looking into the matter.
The setting for the massacre is the “Church of Fake News,” capturing Trump’s familiar refrain about news stories and organizations that he deems unfair.
CNN, The Washington Post, BBC, PBS, NBC and Politico are among the news organizations depicted as victims of the fake Trump’s violent fury.