NEW YORK (AP) — Social platforms have learned in recent years to remove violent videos of extremist shootings more quickly. It’s just not clear that they’re moving fast enough.
Police say a white gunman killed 10 people and injured three others — mostly blacks — in a “racially motivated violent extremist” shooting in Buffalo on Saturday in Buffalo, livestreaming the attack on gaming platform Twitch, which Amazon reports heard, transferred. It didn’t stay there long; A Twitch spokesman said it removed the video in less than two minutes.
That’s significantly quicker than the 17 minutes it took Facebook to take down a similar video streamed of a self-proclaimed white supremacist killing 51 people at two New Zealand mosques in 2019. They haven’t always disappeared quickly.
In April, Twitter issued a new “perpetrators of violent assaults” policy to remove accounts run by “lone perpetrators of terrorist, violent extremist, or mass violent attacks,” along with tweets and other material created by perpetrators of such attacks. However, clips of the video were still circulating on the platform on Sunday.
A clip purporting to show a first-person view of the shooter moving through a supermarket and shooting at people was posted to Twitter at 8:12 a.m. Pacific Time and was still viewable more than four hours later.
Twitter said Sunday it was working to remove footage related to the shooting that violated its rules. However, the company added that if people are sharing media to condemn or provide context, sharing videos and other footage of the shooter may not be a rule violation. In these cases, Twitter said it covers images or videos with a “sensitive material” cover that users have to click through to view them.
But later on Sunday, Twitter changed course in how it covered material related to the shooting. In a subsequently emailed statement, the company said it would “remove videos and media related to the incident” and “may remove” tweets circulating the shooter’s writings. Earlier, the company’s statement said it “may” remove material produced by perpetrators.
“We believe that the hateful and discriminatory views disseminated in content produced by perpetrators are harmful to society and that their dissemination should be limited to prevent perpetrators from making their message public,” read a statement from Twitter.
At a news conference after the attack, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said social media companies needed to be more vigilant to monitor what’s happening on their platforms and found it inexcusable that the live stream didn’t shut down “within a second.” .
“The CEOs of these companies must be held accountable and reassured us all that they are taking every step humanly possible to monitor this information,” Hochul said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “How these tainted ideas ferment on social media – it’s now spreading like a virus.”
Hochul said she blames companies for “fomenting” racist views. “People share these ideas. They share videos of other attacks. And they are all copycats. They all want to be the next great white hope that will inspire the next attack,” she said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that investigators were also looking into a diatribe the shooter posted online which purported to outline the attacker’s racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic beliefs, including a desire to exclude all people of non-European descent from it to expel the USA
Police said the suspected gunman, identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, shot dead 11 black and two white victims at a Buffalo convenience store, repeating a deadly attack at a German synagogue that also streamed on Twitch in October 2019 became.
Twitch is popular with video gamers and has played a key role in the spread of esports. A company spokesman said the company has a “zero tolerance” policy towards violence. So far, the company hasn’t revealed any details about the user site or the live stream, including the number of viewers. The spokesperson said the company has taken the account offline and is monitoring anyone else who may rebroadcast the video.
In Europe, a senior European Union official with oversight of digital affairs for the 27-nation bloc said on Sunday that live streaming on Twitch has shown the need for administrators to continue working with online platforms so that any future transmissions of killings can be streamed quickly can be adjusted.
But Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, also said that eradicating such broadcasts completely is a major challenge.
“It’s really difficult to make sure it’s fully waterproof, to make sure that never happens and that the second people start something like this they shut down. Because there’s a lot of live streaming, which of course is 100% legitimate,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“The platforms have done a lot to get to the bottom of this. They’re not there yet,” she added. “But they keep working and we will keep working.”
Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said Sunday it was quick to label Saturday’s shooting a “terrorist attack,” sparking an internal process that identified the suspect’s account, copies of his writings, and any copies or links to Video of his attack.
The company said it has removed video of the shooting from the platform, adding that instances where it is still being shared are via links to streaming sites. These links, in turn, are blocked and blackholed by the company, meaning they cannot be re-uploaded.
But new links created when people upload copies to external sites would have to be individually blocked in a game of cat-and-mouse — unless the company decides to block an entire streaming site from its platform , which is unlikely.
Jared Holt, resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, said moderation of live content continues to be a major challenge for organizations. He noted that Twitch’s response time was good and the company was wise to monitor its platform for possible re-uploads.
“It would be appropriate for other video hosting platforms to also be aware of this content to the extent that it may have been recorded and may also be reposted on their own products,” Holt said.
AP technology reporter Barbara Ortutay contributed to this story from Oakland, California; AP reporter John Leicester contributed from Paris.
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