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Social Media Under Fire Over New Zealand Attack

The role of social media in the deadly attack carried out in two mosques in New Zealand has come under focus as Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand disclosed on Tuesday that her government would investigate the role social media played in the deadly attack.

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand
Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand

The Prime Minister’s decision follows a video of Friday’s attack in which 50 people at two mosques were killed. 

The government of New Zealand, other governments and business leaders are now calling on global tech companies, Facebook, Google and Twitter to do much more to rid their platforms of extremist content.

“We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published,” the Prime Minister said in a speech to parliament.

“They are the publisher. Not just the postman,” she said, adding that “There cannot be a case of all profit no responsibility.”

Also, Vodafone and two other telecommunications operators, which provide Internet access for most New Zealanders, said on Tuesday that they want Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter (TWTR) CEO Jack Dorsey and Google (CEO Sundar Pichai to take part in an urgent discussion, on how to keep harmful content off their platforms. They however call on authorities to require tech companies to take down terrorist-linked content within a specific period of time and fine them if they fail to do so.

Meanwhile, the tech companies are still scrambling to take down footage of the attack.

Report indicated that YouTube said Monday that it removed tens of thousands of videos and terminated hundreds of accounts “created to promote or glorify the shooter.”

The Google-owned platform said in a statement that the volume of related videos was “unprecedented both in scale and speed,”

YouTube said it took a number of steps including automatically rejecting footage of the violence and temporarily suspending the ability to filter searches by upload date.

Facebook said in a blog post on Monday that the first user report of the violent livestream came 29 minutes after it had started, about 12 minutes after the live broadcast had ended.

 Zealand, however, said the video was viewed fewer than 200 times live, but it was viewed about 4,000 times before it was taken down.

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