LONDON: A gunman who killed 49 people at two New Zealand mosques live-streamed the attacks on Facebook for 17 minutes using an app designed for extreme sports enthusiasts, with copies still being shared on social media hours later.
The live footage of Friday’s attacks was first posted to Facebook and has since been shared on Twitter, Alphabet Inc’s YouTube and Facebook-owned Whatsapp and Instagram. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all said they had taken steps to remove copies of the videos. Facebook said it had deleted the gunman’s accounts “shortly after the livestream commenced” after being alerted by police. But videos of the shooting on all five platforms remained up to 10 hours after the attacks.
The shootings show how the services they offer can be exploited by extremist groups, said Lucinda Creighton, senior advisor to the Counter Extremism Project.
The gunman filmed and shared the attacks using a mobile phone app called LIVE4, which allows users to broadcast directly to Facebook from personal body cameras, according to the app’s developer. The app is usually used to share videos of extreme sports and live music, but on Friday the footage recreated the carnage of a computer game, showing the attacker’s first-person view as he drove to one mosque, entered it and began shooting randomly at people inside. Alex Zhukov, founder and chief technology officer of LIVE4 developer VideoGorillas, said the LIVE4 services transmitted footage directly to Facebook and his company did not have the ability to review it first.
New Zealand’s department of internal affairs said people posting the video online risked breaking the law. “The content of the video is disturbing and will be harmful for people to see,” the department said. “We are working with social media platforms, who are actively removing this content.”