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New Zealand: Business leaders & govt. call on Facebook to do more to rid platform of extremist content after live streaming terrorist attack in mosques

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Article
18 March 2019

AirAsia CEO quits Facebook

Author: Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business

"AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes quits Facebook: 'New Zealand was too much for me'," 18 March 2019

Fernandes, who had 670,000 followers, said in a series of tweets on Sunday morning that Facebook needs to "clean up" after videos of the New Zealand mosque attacks were uploaded to the platform. "The amount of hate that goes on in social media sometimes outweighs the good," he said in a tweet Sunday. "Facebook could have done more to stop some of this."

For at least 17 minutes on Friday, a suspected terrorist streamed live video of a mass murder at a mosque in New Zealand. New Zealand police alerted Facebook to the livestream, and Facebook said it quickly removed the shooter's account and the video. Facebook also said it was removing praise or support for the shooting "as soon as we're aware." On Saturday, Facebook said that it removed 1.5 million videos of the attack. "We continue to work around the clock to remove violating content using a combination of technology and people...," Mia Garlnick, spokesperson for Facebook New Zealand, said on Twitter.

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Article
18 March 2019

Facebook faces an ad boycott after live stream of the New Zealand mosque shooting

Author: Grace Dobush, Fortune

A consortium of New Zealand’s major companies has pledged to pull their advertising from Facebook following the live-streaming of Friday’s mosque shootings in Christchurch... In a joint statement, the Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA) and the Commercial Communications Council asked domestic companies to think about where “their advertising dollars are spent, and carefully consider, with their agency partners, where their ads appear... We challenge Facebook and other platform owners to immediately take steps to effectively moderate hate content before another tragedy can be streamed online.”

... ASB Bank, Lotto NZ, Burger King and telecoms company Spark have signed on to pull their ad dollars from Facebook... Kiwibank, the Bank of New Zealand, and the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group have also independently pulled most or all of their ads from Facebook. Businesses need to seriously consider “if they wish to be associated with social media platforms unable or unwilling to take responsibility for content on those sites,” ANZA CEO Lindsay Mouat told the Herald. Facebook did not immediately return Fortune‘s request for comment... Facebook said Sunday it removed 1.5 million videos of the mosque shooting from its servers in the 24 hours following the attack, many of those at the upload stage... Many social media and video platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Reddit and Twitch, have been scrambling to prevent the video from spreading further... Tony Fernandes, CEO of Malaysia’s low-cost airline AirAsia, said goodbye to his 670,000 Facebook followers over the weekend over the Christchurch atrocity.

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Article
18 March 2019

Facebook update on New Zealand

Author: Chris Sonderby, Facebook

We remain shocked and saddened by this tragedy and are committed to working with leaders in New Zealand, other governments, and across the technology industry to help counter hate speech and the threat of terrorism. We continue to work around the clock to prevent this content from appearing on our site, using a combination of technology and people... We removed the attacker’s video within minutes of their outreach to us, and in the aftermath, we have been providing an on-the-ground resource for law enforcement authorities... While we’re still reviewing this situation, we are able to provide the information below:

  • We designated both shootings as terror attacks, meaning that any praise, support and representation of the events violates our Community Standards and is not permitted on Facebook...
  • We removed the personal accounts of the named suspect from Facebook and Instagram, and are actively identifying and removing any imposter accounts that surface...
  • We removed the original Facebook Live video and hashed it so that other shares that are visually similar to that video are then detected and automatically removed from Facebook and Instagram...
  • We identified abusive content on other social media sites in order to assess whether or how that content might migrate to one of our platforms.

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Article
18 March 2019

Social platforms need to do more: Joint media statement from the Association of New Zealand Advertisers and the Commercial Communications Council

Author: Association of New Zealand Advertisers & the Commercial Communications Council

Events in Christchurch have shocked all of New Zealand and as a nation we are struggling to come to terms with what happened on Friday. The role that social media played, particularly that of live streaming, has been brought into serious question... We, the Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA) and the Commercial Communications Council (Comms Council), recognise social media provides many community and social benefits. But with that comes responsibilities for social media owners to effectively moderate content on their sites... ANZA and the Comms Council encourage all advertisers to recognise they have choice where their advertising dollars are spent, and carefully consider, with their agency partners, where their ads appear. We challenge Facebook and other platform owners to immediately take steps to effectively moderate hate content before another tragedy can be streamed online. ANZA, the Comms Council and their members will work together over the next few days on what more can be done by advertisers, agencies, platform owners and global partners to reduce the chance of this happening again.

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Article
19 March 2019

New Zealand: Social media's artificial intelligence unable to stop spread of videos on mosque attacks

Author: Washington Post, New Zealand Herald

 "Christchurch mosque shootings: How social media's business model helped the massacre go viral"  20 March 2019

People celebrating the mosque attacks that left 50 people dead were able to keep posting and reposting videos on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter despite the websites' use of largely automated systems powered by artificial intelligence to block them... Those pushing videos of Friday's attack made small alterations...to evade detection by artificial-intelligence systems designed by some of the world's most technologically advanced companies to block such content.

Mia Garlick, the head of communications and policy for Facebook in Australia and New Zealand, said the company would "work around the clock to remove violating content using a combination of technology and people." Garlick said the company is also now even removing edited versions of the video that do not feature graphic violence. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment...and Reddit declined to comment, but both have described working hard over several days to remove objectionable content from the shooting. 

A YouTube executive...acknowledged that the platform's systems were overwhelmed and promised to make improvements. "We've made progress, but that doesn't mean we don't have a lot of work ahead of us, and this incident has shown that," said Neal Mohan, YouTube's chief product officer...Those who study social media say that slowing the spread of appalling videos might require the companies to change or limit some features that help spread stimulating... Stephen Merity, a machine learning researcher in San Francisco, said tech companies do not want to use more drastic measures, such as tougher restrictions on who can upload or bigger investments in content-moderation teams, because of how they could alter their sites' usability or business model.

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Article
19 March 2019

Researchers say social media platforms are not doing enough to address anti-Muslim hate speech; inc. comment by Facebook

Author: Jane Lytvynenko, BuzzFeed News

"Anti Muslim hate speech is absolutely relentless on social media even as platforms crack down on other extremist groups," 18 March 2019

FacebookYouTube, and Amazon moved to remove or reduce the spread of anti-vaccination content... [and] largely eradicated ISIS terrorists and made inroads to remove white supremacists from their services, and worked to keep them off. But through all this, anti-Muslim content has been allowed to fester across social media. For years, Muslims endured racial slurs, dehumanizing photos, threats of violence, and targeted harassment campaigns, which continue to spread and generate significant engagement on social media platforms even though it's prohibited by most terms of service... Researchers say Facebook is the primary mainstream platform where extremists organize and anti-Muslim content is deliberately spread... “Islamophobia happens to be something that made these companies lots and lots of money,” said Whitey Phillips, an assistant professor at Syracuse University... She said this type of content generates engagement, which in turn keeps people on the platform and available to see ads.

In an emailed statement, a Facebook spokesperson said the company has been taking down content specific to the attack [at two mosques in New Zealand] — it said it had removed 1.5 million videos of the attack in the first 24 hours — but addressed questions about anti-Muslim hate speech by linking to a blog post from 2017... Facebook has said it has been actively removing comments from the platform that "praise and support" the New Zealand attack, but the company said nothing of stepping up efforts to eradicate other anti-Muslim speech spread on its platform.

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Article
20 March 2019

Australian PM urges G20 for stronger regulations on social media

Author: CNBC News

"Australia's prime minister calls for global social media restrictions after Christchurch shootings", 19 March 2019

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for a global crackdown on social media after footage of last Friday’s mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand was livestreamed on Facebook, calling into question the extent to which the world’s biggest tech giants can successfully monitor their own platforms.

In a letter to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Morrison asked the G-20 chair to make the issue central to the world leaders’ upcoming summit in Osaka in June...

...“It is imperative that the global community works together to ensure that technology firms meet their moral obligation to protect the communities which they serve and from which they profit.”

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Company response
25 March 2019

Response from Google to letter from executives of Vodafone NZ, Speak & 2degrees

Author: Google

Google and YouTube take issues of terrorist use of the internet very seriously. See here and here for posts that layout our overall approach to terrorist content. In addition, we are working in coalition with other companies through the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, to address these issues across platforms (see here for our various joint announcements). YouTube chaired GIFCT in 2018 -- Facebook is chairing for 2019.

Download the full document here

Company response
25 March 2019

Response from Twitter to letter from executives of Vodafone NZ, Speak & 2degrees

Author: Twitter

We are deeply saddened by the attack in Christchurch. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and everyone in the community affected by this tragedy. We are continuously monitoring and removing any content that depicts the tragedy, and will continue to do so in line with the Twitter Rules. We are also in close coordination with New Zealand law enforcement to help in their investigation.

If you see content that may break our rules, report it to us so we can take action. https://help.twitter.com/en/safety-and-security/report-a-tweet 

Download the full document here

Article
26 March 2019

Executives at Vodafone NZ, Spark & 2degrees call on CEOs of Facebook, Google & Twitter to take more responsibility over platform content

Author: CNN Business

"Read the letter New Zealand telecom executives sent to Facebook, Google & Twitter," 19 March 2019

Executives at three major internet service providers in New Zealand have written a letter to the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter, asking them to take more responsibility over the content on their platforms... "You may be aware that on the afternoon of Friday 15 March, three of New Zealand's largest broadband providers, Vodafone NZ, Spark and 2degrees, took the unprecedented step to jointly identify and suspend access to web sites that were hosting video footage taken by the gunman related to the horrific terrorism incident in Christchurch. As key industry players, we believed this extraordinary step was the right thing to do in such extreme and tragic circumstances... Although we recognize the speed with which social network companies sought to remove Friday's video once they were made aware of it, this was still a response to material that was rapidly spreading globally and should never have been made available online... We call on Facebook, Twitter and Google, whose platforms carry so much content, to be a part of an urgent discussion at an industry and New Zealand Government level on an enduring solution to this issue... Social media companies and hosting platforms that enable the sharing of user generated content with the public have a legal duty of care to protect their users and wider society by preventing the uploading and sharing of content such as this video... Now is the time for this conversation to be had, and we call on all of you to join us at the table and be part of the solution.

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