Social media companies under fire after Christchurch terror attack

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 20 March 2019, 7:29a.m.
This follows, Facebook coming under fire for not removing the Christchurch terror attack live stream from its platform quickly enough. Photo / Getty Images

A technology expert says social media platforms have incentivised attacks and emboldened the far right through a lack of regulation and monitoring

This follows, Facebook coming under fire for not removing the Christchurch terror attack live stream from its platform quickly enough. A number of New Zealand businesses have also pulled their ads from Facebook as a result.

On Friday afternoon a gunman opened fire inside two Christchurch mosques killing 50 people.

Media, tech and public policy expert, Joan Donovan, told Kate Hawkesby Facebook hasn't done enough to police extremist content.

"Research in the last year and a half or so on the rise of the far right online, has shown the way in which social media companies have allowed these groups to reach out to new groups of people and to recruit, has incentivised these kinds of attacks or the use of these platforms in a way that is reprehensible."

She said video is particularly hard to monitor but says Facebook hasn't made enough of an effort.

"I think one of the issues with platform companies is that they have scaled without thinking responsibly about what their content management systems are going to be."

Donovan said it's up to the user to decide what they share which has given extremists a larger platform.

"Unfortunately, what we are seeing is that these extremist videos...are starting to become the norm in our society because these people are using these platforms and leveraging the power of them to reach new groups."

She said it seems like Facebook doesn't really know how to monitor the content.

While livestreaming can be extremely handy in covering live news, she said things like crimes, suicides and harassment have also been livestreamed.

"This technology isn't an unmitigated good."

Donovan said Facebook isn't likely to get rid of livestreaming.

She said the unregulated nature of technology is also an issue that needs to be looked into.

"Ultimately we don't have any agreement with these tech platforms about how they should be interacting with not just consumers but other sectors of our society such as journalism, the economy or education."

"It's a really important moment for us to think about the role platforms and tech are playing in driving us towards a society we might not want."

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