Why Tech Didn't Stop the New Zealand Attack From Going Viral

WIRED | 3/15/2019 | Issie Lapowsky
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At least 49 people were murdered Friday at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in an attack that followed a grim playbook for terrorism in the social media era. The shooter apparently seeded warnings on Twitter and 8chan before livestreaming the rampage on Facebook for 17 gut-wrenching minutes. Almost immediately, people copied and reposted versions of the video across the internet, including on YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit. News organizations, too, started airing some of the footage as they reported on the destruction that took place.

By the time Silicon Valley executives woke up Friday morning, tech giants’ algorithms and international content moderating armies were already scrambling to contain the damage—and not very successfully. Many hours after the shooting began, various versions of the video were readily searchable on YouTube using basic keywords, like the shooter’s name.

Time - Pattern - Years - News - Reporters

This is hardly the first time that we’ve seen this pattern play out. It’s been nearly four years since two news reporters were shot and killed on camera in Virginia, while the killer’s first-person video spread on Facebook and Twitter. It’s been almost three since footage of a mass shooting in Dallas also went viral.

The Christchurch massacre rightly had people wondering why, after all this time, tech companies haven’t figured out a way to stop these videos from spreading. The answer may be a disappointingly simple one: It’s a lot harder than it sounds.

Years - Facebook - Google - Tools - Photos

For years now, both Facebook and Google have been developing and implementing automated tools that can detect and remove photos, videos, and text that violates their policies. Facebook uses PhotoDNA, a tool developed by Microsoft, to spot known child pornography images and video. Google has developed its own open-source version of that tool. These companies have also invested in technology to spot extremist posts, banding together under a group called the Global Internet...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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