While the world grieves about victims and survivors of the recent New Zealand mass shooting committed by a radical, discussions surrounding the issue keep spinning out of control. Some political groups are acting decisively and search for someone to blame.
Even though Facebook and YouTube took a heavy-handed approach to censorship during the event, for some it wasn't good enough.
The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) is suing the French branch of Facebook as well as YouTube over the public broadcast of the stream that made the horrors of the mass shooting viewable for millions of people all over the world. The aftermath of the massacre is not only the tragedy of losing lives but also a heated confrontation between the left and the right.
The CFCM points out that the mere fact of allowing to broadcast such a horrible event is enough to “seriously violate human dignity” and allows minors to watch traumatic events.
Facebook and YouTube both started removing the video as soon as they were informed about its contents. However, by the time it was taken down, thousands of copies were re-uploaded, and the live stream was shared on multiple platforms including YouTube and Twitter. It took 29 minutes to remove the video allowing millions to see the events of the shooting as it was happening.
Many groups including the Islamic Association of New Zealand support the lawsuit. The shooter and his associates craved for attention. The infamous 74-page manifesto states explicitly that he wanted the massacre to be seen by as many people as possible.
While Facebook and YouTube certainly did not want to cooperate with such violent actions, they both inadvertently helped the shooter to spread the terrifying message and show his determination and lunacy to millions across the globe.
Responsible individuals amongst the ranks of Facebook and YouTube may face up to three years of imprisonment as well as an $85,000 fine. However, the lawsuit is less about punishment and more about making a statement to ensure that mass shooters do not receive what they desire most — fame and exposure.
The lawsuit regardless of its outcome will most certainly force social media platforms to significantly increase their content moderations policies to avoid such events in the future.