Buffalo shooting: Twitch pulls video faster than Facebook, but not as fast

NEW YORK — Over the past few years, social platforms have learned to remove violent videos of extremist shootings faster. It’s just not clear whether they’re moving fast enough.

A white gunman killed 10 people and wounded three others, mostly black, in Saturday’s “racially motivated violent extremist” shooting in Buffalo, police said. The attack was broadcast live to Twitch, an Amazon-owned gaming platform. It didn’t stay there for long. A Twitch spokesperson said it removed the video in less than two minutes.

That’s much faster than the 17 minutes it took Facebook, a self-described white supremacist who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019, to delete a similar video. But Buffalo’s version of the video still spread quickly to other platforms, and they didn’t always disappear quickly.

In April, Twitter enacted a new policy on “perpetrators of violent attacks” to remove accounts maintained by “individual perpetrators of terrorist, violent extremist, or mass violent attacks,” as well as those made by perpetrators of such attacks. tweets and other material. On Sunday, however, the video clip was still circulating on the platform.

At 8:12 a.m. PT, a video purporting to be seen in a first-person view of a gunman walking through a supermarket and firing at people was posted to Twitter and is still visible more than four hours later.

Twitter said on Sunday it was working to remove material related to shootings that violated its rules. But the company added that sharing videos and other material of the shooter may not violate the rules when people share media condemnations or provide context. In those cases, Twitter said it covered images or videos with “sensitive material” covers that users had to click to view.

At a news conference after the attack, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said social media companies must be more vigilant in monitoring what’s happening on their platforms and found it inexcusable that live broadcasts weren’t canceled “within a second.”

“The CEOs of these companies need to take responsibility and assure all of us that they are taking all possible steps to monitor this information,” Hocher said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” How these depraved ideas got fermented on social media – it’s going viral now.”

Hochul said she believed the company was responsible for “inciting” racist views. “People are sharing these thoughts. They’re sharing videos of other attacks. They’re all copycats. They all want to be the next great white hope that will inspire the next attack,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” said.

Investigators are also looking into slurs posted online by the gunman, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press, purporting to outline the attacker’s racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic beliefs, including a desire to drive all people of non-European ancestry out of the United States.

Conklin, N.Y.-based gunman suspect Payton Gendron shot and killed 11 black and two white victims at a Buffalo supermarket, police say, in an October 2019 German-Jewish Twitch broadcast The deadly attack at the church was echoed.

Twitch is popular among video gamers and has played a key role in promoting the spread of esports. A company spokesperson said the company has a “zero tolerance policy” for violence. So far, the company has not revealed details of the user page or the livestream, including how many people are watching. The spokesperson said the company had taken the account offline and was monitoring anyone else who might rebroadcast the video.

In Europe, the top EU official in charge of digital affairs for the 27-nation bloc said on Sunday that the livestreaming on Twitch showed the need for moderators to continue working with the online platform so any future broadcasts of killings could be shut down quickly.

But European Commission executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager also said that eradicating such broadcasts altogether would be a daunting challenge.

“It’s hard to make sure it’s completely waterproof, to make sure that never happens, and people get turned off as soon as they start doing things like this. Because there’s a lot of livestreaming, of course, that’s 100 percent legal,” she told The Associated Press. Say.

“Platforms have done a lot of work to fix this. They haven’t,” she added. “But they keep working and we will keep working.”

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said on Sunday it was quick to characterize Saturday’s shooting as a “terrorist attack,” prompting an internal process that identifies the suspect’s account, copies of his writings and any copies or Link to his attack video.

The company said it had removed the shooting video from the platform, adding that instances still being shared were via links to streaming sites. These links are in turn blocked and “black-holed” by the company, meaning they cannot be uploaded again.

But new links created when people upload copies to external sites have to be blocked individually in a game of cat-and-mouse — unless the company chooses to block the entire streaming site from its platform, which is unlikely.

Jared Holt, a resident researcher at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, said real-time content moderation remains a challenge for companies. He pointed out that Twitch’s response time is good, and the company is smart to see if their platform is likely to re-upload.

“Other video hosting platforms should be aware of this as well, as it may have been recorded — or republished on their own products,” Holt said.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times LLC.

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