Over the past few years, social platforms have learned to remove harsh videos of extremist executions. It’s just not clear that they’re moving fast enough.

Police say that when a white gunman killed 10 people and wounded three more – most of them Black – in a “racially motivated violence by violent extremists” shooting in Buffalo on Saturday, he was broadcasting live an attack on Amazon’s Twitch gaming platform . He did not stay there long; A Twitch spokesman said the video was removed in less than two minutes.

It is much faster than the 17 minutes it took Facebook to shoot a similar video, which broadcast itself calling itself a supporter of white supremacy, which killed 51 people in two mosques in New Zealand in 2019. they did not always disappear quickly.

In April, Twitter adopted a new policy on “perpetrators of violent attacks” to delete the accounts of “individual perpetrators of terrorist, violent extremist or mass violent attacks”, as well as tweets and other material created by perpetrators of such attacks. However, videos from the video were still on the platform on Sunday.

One clip, which allegedly shows a first-person view of an armed man moving through a supermarket shooting at people, was posted on Twitter at 8:12 a.m. Pacific time and could be viewed in more than four hours.

Twitter said Sunday it was working to remove shooting-related materials that violated its rules. But the company added that if people share the media to condemn it or provide context, sharing videos and other materials from the shooter may not be breaking the rules. In these cases, Twitter said it covers images or videos with “confidential material” that users should click to view.

At a news conference after the attack, New York Governor Katie Hochul said social media companies should be more vigilant in monitoring what happens on their platforms, and found it unforgivable that the live broadcast was not removed “within a second.”

“The CEOs of these companies must be held accountable and reassure us all that they are doing their best to be able to monitor this information,” Hochul told ABC on Sunday. “As these corrupt ideas ferment on social media, they are now spreading like a virus.”

Hochul said she considered the companies responsible for “inciting” racist views. “People share these ideas. They share videos of other attacks. And they are all copies. They all want to be the next big white hope that will inspire the next attack, ”she told NBC“ Meet the Press ”.

A law enforcement spokesman told the Associated Press that investigators were also looking at profanity posted by a gunman on the Internet, which allegedly outlined the attacker’s racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic beliefs, including a desire to expel all non-Europeans. USA

Police said a suspected gunman, identified as Peyton Hendron, of Conklin, New York, shot dead 11 black and two white victims at a Buffalo supermarket, repeating a deadly attack at a German synagogue that also aired on Twitch in October 2019.

Twitch is popular with video game players and has played a key role in boosting the spread of eSports. A company spokesman said the campaign was pursuing a “zero tolerance policy” against violence. So far, the company has not disclosed details about the user’s page or live broadcast, including how many people watched it. A spokesman said the company had disabled the account offline and was monitoring anyone else who could relay the video.

In Europe, a senior European Union official in charge of digital technology for the 27-nation bloc said on Sunday that a live broadcast on Twitch showed administrators needed to continue working with online platforms to be able to quickly close any future broadcasts of the killings.

But Margrethe Westager, who is the executive vice president of the European Commission, also said that completely abandoning such broadcasts would be a difficult task.

“It’s really hard to make sure it’s completely waterproof, to make sure it never happens and that people will be shut down as soon as they start something like that. Because there are a lot of live broadcasts, which, of course, are 100% legal, ”she said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“The platforms have done a lot to get to the origins. They are not there yet, ”she added. “But they keep working and we will work.”

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said Sunday it quickly recognized the shooting as a “terrorist attack” on Saturday, launching an internal process that identifies the suspect’s account as well as copies of his writings and any copy or video link to his attack.

The company said it had removed the video footage from the platform and added that instances that it was still being distributed appeared through links to streaming sites. These links, in turn, are blocked and “closed” by the company, which means that they can not be reloaded.

But new links created when people upload copies to external sites need to be individually blocked from playing cat and mouse games – unless the company decides to block the entire streaming site from its platform, which is unlikely.

Jared Holt, an employee of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Laboratory, said moderating live content remains a big challenge for companies. He noted that Twitch’s response time was good and the company was reasonably watching its platform for possible reloads.

“Other video hosting platforms also need to be aware of this content to the extent that it can be recorded – it can also be republished on their own products,” Holt said.


AP technology reporter Barbara Ortutai contributed to this story from Auckland, California; AP reporter John Leicester made his contribution from Paris.

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