Facebook says no one flagged NZ mosque shooting livestream

Facebook removed the video ‘within minutes’ of being notified by police, said Chris Sonderby

Facebook says none of the 200 or so people who watched live video of the New Zealand mosque shooting flagged it to moderators, underlining the challenge tech companies face in policing violent or disturbing content in real time.

The social media giant released new details about its response to the video in a blog post. It said the gunman’s live 17-minute broadcast was viewed fewer than 200 times and the first user report didn’t come in until 12 minutes after it ended. Fifty people were killed at two mosques in Christchurch.

Facebook removed the video “within minutes’” of being notified by police, said Chris Sonderby, Facebook’s deputy general counsel.

“No users reported the video during the live broadcast,” and it was watched about 4,000 times in total before being taken down, Sonderby said. “We continue to work around the clock to prevent this content from appearing on our site, using a combination of technology and people.”

Facebook has previously said that in the first 24 hours after the massacre, it removed 1.5 million videos of the attacks, “of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload,” implying 300,000 copies successfully made it on to the site before being taken down.

The video’s rapid spread online puts renewed pressure on Facebook and other social media sites such as YouTube and Twitter over their content moderation efforts. Many question why Facebook in particular wasn’t able to more quickly detect the video and take it down.

On Tuesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed frustration that the footage remained online four days after the killings. She said she had received “some communication” from Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on the issue. “It is horrendous and while they’ve given us those assurances, ultimately the responsibility does sit with them.”

READ MORE: Quebec City mosque shooter ‘very affected’ by New Zealand massacre

READ MORE: New Zealand mosque shooter brandished white supremacist iconography

Facebook uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect objectionable material, while at the same time relying on the public to flag up content that violates its standards. Those reports are then sent to human reviewers who decide what action to take, the company said in a video in November , which also outlined how it uses “computer vision” to detect 97 per cent of graphic violence before anyone reports it. However, it’s less clear how these systems apply to Facebook’s live streaming.

To report live video, a user must know to click on a small set of three grey dots on the right side of the post. When you click on “report live video,” you’re given a choice of objectionable content types to select from, including violence, bullying and harassment. You’re also told to contact law enforcement in your area if someone is in immediate danger.

Before the company was alerted to the video, a user on 8chan had already posted a link to copy of it on a file sharing site, Sonderby said. 8chan is a dark corner of the web where those disaffected by mainstream social media sites often post extremist, racist and violent views.

In another indication of the video’s spread by those intent on sharing it, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a group of global internet companies led by Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft and Twitter, said it added more than 800 different versions to a shared database used to block violent terrorist images and videos.

The group said it added “digital fingerprints” for visually distinct versions of the video to its database. The move came in response to attempts by internet users to share the video by editing or repackaging versions with different digital fingerprints to avoid detection.

“The incident highlights the importance of industry co-operation regarding the range of terrorists and violent extremists operating online,” said the group, which was formed in 2017 in response to official pressure to do more to fight online extremism.

In a series of tweets a day after the shootings , Facebook’s former chief security officer, Alex Stamos, laid out the challenge for tech companies as they raced to keep up with new versions of the video.

“Each time this happens, the companies have to spot it and create a new fingerprint,” said Stamos. “What you are seeing on the major platforms is the water leaking around thousands of fingers poked in a dam,” he said

Stamos estimated the big tech companies are blocking more than 99 per cent of the videos from being uploaded, “which is not enough to make it impossible to find.”

Kelvin Chan, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake Yettis warned to not get a big head after massive first win

The Yettis won over the Olds Stingers 23-1 at the home opener, April 23

Strathcona County RCMP charge Eckville man for firearms, drugs

RCMP found the suspects at a high risk traffic stop on April 11 as a result of a 911 complaint

Sylvan Lake Town Council approves a 2019 supplementary tax

The Town expects to see roughly $40,000 in revenue from the supplementary tax in 2019.

Alberta’s 47 legislature newbies meet under the dome for orientation day

Most new members are with the United Conservatives, who won a majority government

Annual Home and Lifestyle Show coming to Sylvan Lake

The inaugural event will showcase local businesses at the NexSource Centre’s curling rink on May 11

VIDEO: Police dog in Oregon struck by 200 porcupine quills during pursuit

The German shepherd had to be sedated and was in treatment for more than two hours

Calgary woman killed in B.C. highway crash

Crash closed highway for hours

Assessment says Alberta woman facing animal abuse charges fit to stand trial

April Dawn Irving, 59, is charged with 13 counts of cruelty to animals

Canadian privacy watchdogs find major shortcomings in Facebook probe

The probe followed reports that Facebook had let an outside organization use an app to access users’ personal info

Provinces, Ottawa talk 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

B.C. has paid $2 million on a bus service for the northern part of the province

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Oil and gas company confirms death of one of its employees in Yoho avalanche

Dana Coffield died when he was skiing in the Rocky Mountains

Cenovus CEO estimates production curtailments will deliver billions to taxpayers

The curtailment program started Jan. 1 was designed to keep 325,000 barrels per day off the market

Robbery in Leduc County estimated at $40,000

Leduc RCMP investigate break and enter and theft of firearms

Most Read