NEW YORK — Social platforms have learned to remove violent videos of extremist shootings more quickly in recent years. It’s just not clear that they’re going fast enough.
Police say when a white gunman killed 10 people and injured three others – most of them black – in a “racially motivated violent extremist” shooting in Buffalo Saturday, he live-streamed the attack to Amazon-owned gaming platform Twitch. . It didn’t stay there long; a Twitch spokesperson said it took down the video in less than two minutes.
That’s significantly faster than the 17 minutes it took Facebook to remove a similar video streamed by a self-proclaimed white supremacist who killed 51 people in two New Zealand mosques in 2019. But versions of the Buffalo recording video still quickly spread to other platforms and didn’t always disappear soon.
In April, Twitter introduced a new policy on “perpetrators of violent attacks” to remove accounts maintained by “individual perpetrators of terrorist, violent extremist or mass violent attacks,” along with tweets, manifestos, and other material produced by perpetrators. of such attacks. On Sunday, however, video clips were still circulating on the platform.
A clip purporting to show a first-person view of the gunman walking through a grocery store and firing at people was posted to Twitter at 8:12 a.m. Pacific Time and was still viewable more than four hours later. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At a news conference after the attack, New York government Kathy Hochul said social media companies should be more vigilant about following what’s happening on their platforms and found it unforgivable that the live stream was not removed “within a second.”
“The CEOs of those companies need to be held accountable and assure all of us that they are taking every humanly possible step to verify this information,” Hochul said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “How these perverted ideas fermented on social media – it’s now spreading like a virus.”
Hochul said she holds companies accountable for “fueling” racist views. “People share these ideas. They share videos of other attacks. And they are all copycats. They all want to be the next great white hope that will inspire the next attack,” she told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press investigators were also examining a manifesto the gunman posted online that claims to outline the attacker’s racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Semitic beliefs, including a desire to kill all people who are not of European descent. Are from the USA
Police said the suspected gunman, identified as Payton Gendron, of Conklin, New York, shot 11 black and two white victims at a Buffalo supermarket following a deadly attack at a German synagogue that was also streamed on Twitch in October 2019.
Popular among video game players, Twitch has played a key role in driving the spread of competitive video games, known as “esports.” A spokesperson said the company has a “zero tolerance policy” against violence. The spokesperson said the company has taken the account offline and is monitoring others who might rebroadcast the video. So far, the company has not revealed any details about the user page or the live stream, including how many people watched it.
In Europe, a senior European Union official overseeing digital affairs for the 27-nation bloc said on Sunday that live streaming on Twitch showed that administrators must continue to work with online platforms so that future broadcasts of murders can quickly stop.
But Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, also said it would be a tough challenge to completely eradicate such broadcasts.
“It’s very difficult to ensure it’s completely watertight, to ensure that this will never happen and that people are shut down once they start something like this. Because there’s a lot of live streaming, which is 100% legit,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“The platforms have done much to get to the root of this. They are not there yet,” she added. “But they will continue to work, and we will continue to work.”
Jared Holt, a resident fellow at Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, said moderating live content remains a major challenge for businesses. He noted that Twitch’s response time was good and that the company was smart about keeping an eye on its platform for possible reuploads.
“It would behoove other video hosting platforms to also be aware of this content to the extent that it may have been included — and possibly republished on their own products as well,” Holt said.
AP tech reporter Barbara Ortutay contributed to this story from Oakland, California; AP reporter John Leicester contributed from Paris.