A person puts a candle at central market square in Halle, Germany, on Wednesday night, after two people were killed in a shooting outside a German synagogue. Photo: REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
world

Livestreamed killings test social media measures to block extremist content

15 Comments
By Katie Paul

Social media companies scrambled on Wednesday to scrub footage of a shooting outside a German synagogue from their platforms, in the first major test of their systems since a massacre in the New Zealand city of Christchurch prompted a global outcry.

The attacker in Germany, who livestreamed his rampage on Amazon's gaming subsidiary Twitch, shot dead two people after failing to gain entry to the synagogue on the holiest day of the Jewish year.

The nearly 36-minute-long video closely resembled footage livestreamed in March in Christchurch, where the gunman also wore a camera to capture a first-person perspective as he killed 51 people at two mosques.

As with Christchurch, full copies and portions of the German video quickly began appearing elsewhere online, shared both by supporters of the gunman's anti-Semitic ideology and critics condemning his actions.

Reuters viewed copies and links to the footage posted on Twitter, 4chan and message boards focused on trolling and harassment, as well as multiple white supremacist channels on messaging app Telegram.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, whose members include Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter, said they were collaborating to take down the videos using "hashing" technology, which reduces content to code so it can be spotted and removed automatically.

"We are in close contact with each other and remain committed to disrupting the online spread of violent and extremist content," the group said in a statement.

In statements posted to its official Twitter account, Twitch said the footage was viewed live by five people and then seen by 2,200, before the company took it down 30 minutes later.

It said the suspect's account had attempted to stream only once before and its investigation suggested that "people were coordinating and sharing the video via other online messaging services," but did not elaborate.

Facebook said it did not yet have details of how many times the video had been posted on its platforms or how many users saw it, while Twitter referred Reuters to the Forum's statement.

Google and Telegram did not respond to requests for comment.

Silicon Valley tech giants have endorsed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's "Christchurch Call," which aims to establish ethical standards for tech companies and media outlets to avoid amplifying violent extremist content online.

The companies, which face intense scrutiny over hate speech and are trying to avert more strenuous action by regulators, pledged to tighten rules and share more information around abusive content.

The call came after years of spotty enforcement of companies' policies around hateful and violent content, often reposted millions of times between fringe and mainstream sites.

Attackers began accompanying assaults with highly orchestrated digital announcements, spurring followers to capture the content and post it to different platforms before it could be taken down.

In 2018, a gunman who killed 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue posted his manifesto on social network Gab, saying a non-profit that helped refugees relocate to the United States was hurting "my people."

Online message board 8chan was used by mass shooters to announce attacks three times in 2019, including the posting of a four-page statement by the gunman behind the attack at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas.

Oren Segal, who heads the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, said violent imagery spreads across the internet and cannot be stopped by individual firms.

"A couple of months ago, the conversation was about 8chan. Now it's about Twitch and Telegram. The names will change, but the threat remains the same and is one that affects the entire online ecosystem," he said.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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Which kind of information can a video of murders can give you than a report about it can not ?

The video are not made to inform but to exhibit.

I do not see how information is censored by not seeing a video of a murdered staging himself in the act of murdering. Browsing Internet One can get a wide coverage of what happened.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Which kind of information can a video of murders can give you than a report about it can not ?

You trust the "authorities" to tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I do not. I expect them to lie when it pleases them. History is on my side. Faith is on yours.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I do not see how information is censored by not seeing a video of a murdered staging himself in the act of murdering.

Someone might recognize a face, voice or area and be able stop the murder or someone who can, or at least provide enough identification that the perp can be stopped before the next killing. Its called out-sourcing. The police are not a replacement for the eyes and ears of the whole world.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Silicon Valley bubble dwellers have created a monster beyond their control for their profit which the rest of us have to live with.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

englisc aspyrgend: o_O?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

speechless in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To all the right wing terrorists: It is stupid to target Jewish people. They are not your problem and pose no threat. The fact that you keep focusing on them shows how utterly ignorant you are.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

In Germany just before Hitler took power a popular saying was "The Enemy is on the Right!" The many who ignored this warning paid with their lives and today the seductive siren-call of fascism suggests that people are fated to repeat the mistakes of the past.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In Germany just before Hitler took power a popular saying was "The Enemy is on the Right!" The many who ignored this warning paid with their lives and today the seductive siren-call of fascism suggests that people are fated to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Not sure what you are suggesting, but it seems as though you are offering a very narrow interpretation of history to fit a modern narrative. Along the lines of those who cite Hitler's vegetarianism.

It's not that hard to pick out the fascists. They are the ones who believe their opposition is evil, and proudly resort to violence and intimidation to get their way.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Rightwing nutters like this one in Halle/Germany are emboldened by rightwing talkers like Trump and his ilk who makes them feel safe to live out their irrational hatred by violent means. It is further fueled by judges like that one which turned down Renate Künast's request to prosecute hate-mailers who called her names which would get moderated here.

Germany has a problem but it is not the refugees who are responsible.

The enemy IS on the right!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Germany has a problem but it is not the refugees who are responsible.

The enemy IS on the right!

There is a problem in Europe with extremism. The main issues are Islamist extremism and far right extremism.

Both need to be addressed honestly.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Jimizo

I kinda agree: there is a relative anti-Semitic problem in (Western) Europe. Relative to the past 20 years.

If you step back, and look at it from a historical perspective, there has never been a better time to be a Jew living in Western Europe. Never.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You trust the "authorities" to tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I do not. I expect them to lie when it pleases them. History is on my side. Faith is on yours.

So you expect video to be a reliable source of information ? That is is quite a big joke.

Anybody which ever watched a movie can understand how low is a video value. If you are not on site (and some kind of foreseer. mind reader and so on) you have not choice but to deal with all the information you can get and summun it to find the truth (better learn german (and Italian, spanish, french, ...) on this one). The "" saw a video" has as much value in this day and age than what the average FOAF, thought I wonder if the FOAF as not more value because you can track it to some point.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So you expect video to be a reliable source of information ? That is is quite a big joke.

Tell that to the woman who was just tracked down and sexually assaulted by a guy who found her local train station via a reflection in her eye in a picture. A video is essentially a bunch of pictures. Of course now I probably made you think ALL pictures and videos should be banned for public safety (sigh). If it saves just one life.....(eyeroll).

I am really not sure where you think the "authorities" get their information. You don't think some of it comes from these videos? Seriously?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am really not sure where you think the "authorities" get their information.

Did not you say before than "authorities" were not reliable so you wanted the video ?

I remember you, we are talking about the fact than you consider censorship of information, the non display of a video of a murderer exhibiting his act of murdering people.

You can get information without seeing a video and a video is not by essence a reliable source of information (it can be faked, it can be edited, it can only show what was filmed, perception can be oriented, ...).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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