Dozens of recordings of a 2019 massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, remain online, in a sobering reminder of the internet’s permanence.
The one-minute 30-second video offers an unnerving first-person view. A man strides across a parking lot. Then he raises a semiautomatic gun and fires at two people standing in a doorway. One falls, while the other tries crawling away before getting shot again.
The black-and-white clip was uploaded to Facebook on March 15, 2019. It was a partial recording of a livestream by a gunman while he murdered 51 people that day at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
For more than three years, the video has remained undisturbed on Facebook, cropped to a square and slowed down in parts. About three-quarters of the way through the video, text pops up urging the audience to “Share THIS.” The clip has amassed about 7,000 views and 22 comments, including some asking for it to be deleted.
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Buffalo gunman’s video is surfacing on Facebook, sometimes with ads beside it.
People searching on Facebook for footage of Saturday’s racist shooting rampage in Buffalo, N.Y., may have come across posts with footage of the attack or links to websites promising the gunman’s full video. Interspersed between those posts, they may have also seen a variety of ads.
The social network has sometimes served ads next to posts offering clips of the video, which a gunman live streamed on the video platform Twitch as he killed 10 people. For the past six days, recordings of that livestream have circulated across the internet including on Facebook, Twitter and fringe and extremist message boards and sites, despite some companies’ efforts to remove the content.
‘A catastrophic failure’: computer scientist Hany Farid on why violent videos circulate on the internet
In the aftermath of yet another racially motivated shooting that was live-streamed on social media, tech companies are facing fresh questions about their ability to effectively moderate their platforms.
What People Misunderstand About Red-Pilling: I study the hate-filled online spaces that spawned the Buffalo shooter.
When the news alert popped up on my screen, I froze. Another deadly mass shooting had taken place, and a racist white man had murdered innocent Black people. Once again, the communities I study had fomented mass murder. And I very much doubt this will be the last time.
I’ve been doing fieldwork in far-right online communities since 2016. I hang out on white supremacist Telegram channels, comb through QAnon threads on 8kun (formerly known as 8chan), and watch TikToks that claim COVID-19 is a globalist plot. Like most people who work with far-right content, I find it emotionally draining and unpleasant. But I’m also convinced that the mainstream acceptability of extremely racist and conspiratorial beliefs is a threat to American democracy.