New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern wants to discuss live streaming with Facebook after mosque attacks

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern wants to discuss live streaming with Facebook after mosque attacks
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meeting with the representatives of the refugee centre during a visit to the Canterbury Refugee Centre in Christchurch, on March 16, 2019.
PHOTO: AFP

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday (March 17) Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has sent condolences over the shootings at two mosques that killed 50 people, some of which were live-streamed over the social media platform.

"Certainly, I have had contact from Sheryl Sandberg. I haven't spoken to her directly but she has reached out, an acknowledgement of what has occurred here in New Zealand," Ardern said a media conference when asked if Facebook should stop live-streaming.

Saying there were "further questions to be answered" by the tech giants, Ardern added: "This is an issue that I will look to be discussing directly with Facebook."

A horrific video shot by the gunmen who carried out the mosque massacre on Friday was livestreamed on Facebook before being removed by the company.

Shooters go on rampage at 2 Christchurch mosques, 40 killed

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    Attacks on two Christchurch mosques left at least 40 dead Friday, with one gunman - identified as an Australian extremist -- apparently livestreaming the assault that triggered the lockdown of the New Zealand city.

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    Emergency services personnel transport a stretcher carrying a person at a hospital, after reports that several shots had been fired, in central Christchurch, New Zealand March 15, 2019.

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    AOS (Armed Offenders Squad) member following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019.

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    A police car blocks the car of a suspect following shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand March 15, 2019, in this still image obtained from a social media video.

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    An image grab from TV New Zealand taken on March 15, 2019 shows New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressing the country on television following the mosque shooting in Christchurch.

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    Flowers are placed on the front steps of the Wellington Masjid mosque in Kilbirnie in Wellington on March 15, 2019

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    Police cordon off the area in front of the Masjid al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019.

But the stream, lasting 17 minutes, was shared repeatedly on YouTube and Twitter, and Internet platforms were scrambling to remove videos being reposted of the gruesome scenes.

"We did as much as we could to remove, or seek to have removed, some of the footage that was being circulated in the aftermath of this terrorist attack," Ardern said. "But ultimately it has been up to those platforms to facilitate their removal."

"I do think that there are further questions to be answered."

In a statement on Sunday, Mia Garlick of Facebook New Zealand vowed to "work around the clock to remove violating content".

"In the first 24 hours we removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally, of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload," the company said.

Ardern was joined by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in expressing doubts that current rules go far enough. Morrison said that social media companies had "co-operated" since the attack.

"But I sadly have to say that the capacity to actually assist fully is very limited on the technology side."

He said "assurances were given" that once such content was pulled down, a regime would make sure it did not go back up.

"Clearly it hasn't (happened)."

"So I think there are some very real discussions that have to be had about how these facilities and capabilities as they exist on social media, can continue to be offered."

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