Australia calls for social media crackdown following mosque shooting – CNET


A man sits outside the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, following the mass shooting. 

Marty Melville/Getty Images

The world’s biggest social networks have been issued an ultimatum over the “continuing and unrestricted role” they play in terrorist attacks, following two mass shootings at mosques in New Zealand on Friday. 

Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison has written to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ahead of the upcoming G20 summit in Osaka, saying world leaders must hold technology companies to account.

While the likes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not mentioned by name, Prime Minister Morrison puts the internet giants on notice saying there should be “clear consequences” not only for those who carry out terrorist attacks, but also “for those who facilitate them.”

The letter was also sent to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern, who has previously said she plans on discussing the issue “directly with Facebook.”

Prime Minister Morrison’s comments follow a terrorist attack in New Zealand on Friday, when a gunman entered a mosque in central Christchurch and shot worshippers while they prayed, livestreaming the shooting on Facebook. The attack, which also involved a second shooting at another Christchurch mosque, claimed 50 lives. The alleged attacker, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was an Australian national.

As New Zealand counts the cost of the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand history, attention has turned to the role the internet and social media played in the attack.

While Facebook and Twitter deleted the alleged attacker’s social media accounts within hours of the attack, footage of the shooting spread quickly. The roughly 17-minute live clip was downloaded from Facebook and re-uploaded across the internet on sites such as YouTube, with some users editing out the more graphic content in an attempt to circumvent censors.

Facebook said it deleted 1.5 million versions of the video within the first 24 hours of the attack.

But Prime Minister Morrison is calling for a tougher approach to weeding out extremist content on the internet, saying technology firms have a “moral obligation to protect the communities which they serve and from which they profit.”

He added that social media companies, content service providers and gaming platforms all had a part to play to keep communities safe.

“We know that violent extremists use the internet for recruitment, radicalisation and to carry out their evil acts,” the Prime Minister’s letter reads. “That they will continue to try to use any means their disposal does not mean governments and technology firms should abrogate their responsibilities to keep our communities safe.”