Facebook has been working “around the clock” to wipe out copies of the first-person shooter-style video filmed by the gunman as he went on a shooting spree inside a Christchurch mosque in New Zealand, killing 50.
In an update on Saturday, Facebook’s New Zealand spokesperson, Mia Garlick, said that the social media giant was “using a combination of technology and people” to make sure the footage originally livestreamed by 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant as he gunned down the congregation in the Al Noor Mosque could not be reposted on the site. The majority of the videos were removed while in the process of being uploaded to Facebook, she said.
“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,” Facebook tweeted, citing Garlick.
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…
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) March 17, 2019
While the stomach-churning footage of the attack is extremely graphic and expressly violates Facebook Community Standards against violence and criminal behavior, Facebook has decided to go one step further and ban all clips from the video even if they don’t feature any graphic imagery, Garlick said.
“Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities, we’re also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content,” she said.
The gruesome 17-minute video was promptly taken down by Facebook after a police alert. Facebook also yanked Tarrant’s Facebook and Instagram pages and cracked down on messages praising the attacker or his rampage.
The attacker, who was charged with murder in a brief court appearance on Friday and is expected to face more charges, tried hard to publicize his atrocity even before he went on the shooting spree, releasing a long, hatred-filled manifesto and sending it to the New Zealand prime minister’s office, as well as to several local and international media outlets.
The office of NZ PM Jacinda Ardern confirmed on Saturday that it had received the manifesto “less than 10 minutes” before the attack. It came to the “generic” mail account administered by the PM’s staff, and not in her personal mail, the spokesman said as cited by the NZ Herald. Upon receiving the alarming text, the staffer alerted the parliamentary security, which, in turn, tipped off the police.
The PM herself did not see the manifesto, which was also emailed to around 70 other addresses, including politicians and media organizations.
The manifesto cites Tarrant’s inspirations for carrying out the attack. The shooter idealized historical figures and crusaders who waged wars against Muslims and vowed “revenge” to “invaders.” He also mentioned visiting several European and Asian countries before his attack, including the UK, Turkey, Pakistan, and Bulgaria, which are now investigating the purpose of those visits. Tarrant is also alleged to have visited North Korea. A photo circulating online allegedly shows him in front of one of the reclusive state’s famous landmarks.
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