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News > World

Social Media Sites Struggle to Stem Spread of New Zealand's Terror Attack Footage

  • A police officer stands guard during Friday prayers at a Bangladesh mosque providing extra security after the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand.

    A police officer stands guard during Friday prayers at a Bangladesh mosque providing extra security after the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 March 2019

Facebook and others have been trying to contain live-streamed GoPro video from one of the gunmen who committed a massacre at a mosque in New Zealand Friday.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have been working to stem the spread of gruesome and horrific footage of an unprecedented massacre at a mosque in New Zealand as it was taking place -- 49 people have been killed and at least 40 others hospitalized with injuries.

New Zealand: 49 Dead, 1 Charged With Murder In Terrorist Attack

A live-streamed GoPro video from one of the attackers, a 28-year-old Australian who identified himself as Brenton Tarrant, showed the attack in Christchurch from his perspective, in an uncanny resemblance to a first-person-shooter video game.

Local law enforcement alerted Facebook to a video “shortly after the livestream commenced," Facebook stated, adding that the company has removed the original video, which has now been verified by the French news agency AFP, along with the shooter's Facebook and Instagram accounts. However, copies and excerpts from the video have continued to appear on social media platforms like Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter hours later.

New Zealand police asked social media users to stop sharing the purported shooting footage and said they were seeking to have it taken down. 

Twitter announced it had suspended an account related to the shooting and is working to remove the video from its platform. According to a Google spokesperson, YouTube, which is owned by Google, removes "shocking, violent and graphic content" as soon as it is made aware of it.

"Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage,” a YouTube spokesperson tweeted.

"We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we're aware," said Mia Garlick, a Facebook spokesperson in New Zealand said. "We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continue."

Tarrant has been arrested and charged with murder, Aljazeera reported, though police have not named the man in custody but said he was in his late 20s. He is scheduled to appear in court Saturday morning, police said. Three others, a woman and two men, have also been taken into custody.

New Zealand Mass Shooter Praised Trump, White Terrorist Breivik in Manifesto

Around midday Friday, a gunman with a GoPro strapped to him walked into Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and opened fire on worshippers with a semi-automatic weapon. A second shooting attack took place at a mosque in Linwood about 2 miles east of Christchurch.

Seven people died at the Linwood mosque, 41 died at the first mosque, and one person died in hospital. At least 40 others have been hospitalized with gunshot wounds, about half are in a critical condition, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The attack was carried out around the time of the weekly Muslim Friday prayer that sees hundreds of worshipers attending a sermon and a prayer at different mosques, lasting about 45 minutes around midday.

Mosques across New Zealand will remain under police protection for the foreseeable future, New Zealand police said.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the alleged gunman, Tarrant, as an "extremist, right-wing" terrorist. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern clearly labeled the mass shooting as a "terrorist attack."

The 28-year-old suspect also shared a link to a manifesto which Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison, who was briefed on the document, called “a work of hate.”

The author of the document describes himself as an ethnonationalist and a fascist in the text, adding that the attack had been planned for two years. 

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