Internet firms add New Zealand video to shared database

Published: Mar. 19, 2019 at 8:20 AM EDT
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A group of big internet companies says it has added more than 800 different versions of the New Zealand mosque shooting video to a shared database used to block violent terrorist images and videos.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism said Monday that it added "digital fingerprints" for the visually distinct videos to its list.

The group, led by Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft and Twitter, was responding to attempts by internet users to share the video by editing or repackaging versions with different digital fingerprints to avoid detection.

The forum said in a brief statement that the "incident highlights the importance of industry cooperation regarding the range of terrorists and violent extremists operating online."

The group formed in 2017 in response to official pressure to do more to fight online extremism.


12:30 a.m.

Ignoring widespread criticism, Turkey's president has again shown excerpts of a video taken by the attacker who killed 50 people in mosques in New Zealand.

Speaking at a campaign rally in the northern town of Eregli, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called on New Zealand to amend its laws to ensure that the attacker is severely punished.

Erdogan said, "If New Zealand fails to hold the attacker accountable, one way or another we will hold him to account."

He went on to criticize New Zealand and Australia for sending troops to Turkey in the World War I Gallipoli campaign, claiming their motive was anti-Islam-oriented.

Erdogan has been using clips from Friday's attack to denounce Islamophobia ahead of March 31 local elections as he tries to stoke nationalist and religious sentiments.


11:25 p.m. Tuesday

Facebook says it received no reports of the video of the Christchurch mosque attacks while it was being livestreamed by the gunman.

Chris Sonderby, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, says "no users reported the video during the live broadcast," which was viewed fewer than 200 times.

Sonderby says in a blog post that Facebook removed the video "within minutes'" of being contacted by police, and it was watched about 4,000 times in total before being taken down. He says Facebook removed 1.5 million videos of the attacks in the 24 hours after the event.

Social media companies rely on the public to report objectionable comment. Facebook has come under fire after video of the shootings spread rapidly on the internet.


10:10 p.m.

Police in New Zealand say they have completed autopsies on all 50 victims of last week's mosque shootings, and have formally identified 12 of them. Six of the identified victims have been returned to their families.

Four days after the attack, relatives were anxiously waiting Tuesday for word on when they can bury their loved ones.

Islamic tradition calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said authorities hope to release all the bodies by Wednesday, and police have said authorities are working with pathologists and coroners to complete the task as soon as they can.

Police said in a statement that their "absolute priority is to get this right and ensure that no mistakes are made."


12:30 p.m.

New Zealand's prime minister is vowing to block any attempt at self-promotion by the white supremacist accused of killing 50 people in mosque shootings, after he dismissed his lawyer and opted to represent himself in court.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged Tuesday that the suspect's move to represent himself could allow him a platform for his racist views during the trial. Ardern said she was determined to prevent that and would not speak his name.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant dismissed his lawyer on Saturday. He has been charged with one count of murder and a judge said he is likely to face more charges over the shootings.

Elsewhere in New Zealand, police are probing a suspicious blaze that's destroyed a small gun club.

Fire crews were called to the scene in the North Island town of Kaitaia at about 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

Police say no one was hurt, but it's being treated as suspicious.


11:45 a.m.

New Zealand's international spy agency has confirmed it had not received any relevant information or intelligence ahead of last week's deadly mass shooting on two mosques.

The Government Communications Security Bureau also said in a statement on Monday night that it welcomed an inquiry that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ordered into intelligence and security services that failed to detect the risk from the attacker or his plans.

There have been concerns intelligence agencies were overly focused on the Muslim community in detecting and preventing security risks.

On Friday, a white supremacist went on a shooting rampage in two mosques in Christchurch, killing 50 people.


11:20 a.m.

Australia's prime minister has urged world leaders to crack down on social media companies that broadcast terrorist attacks in the aftermath of the New Zealand mosque shootings.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has written to G-20 chairman Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling for agreement on "clear consequences" for companies whose platforms are used to facilitate and normalize horrific acts.

Australian Brenton Tarrant has been charged with murder over the attack on two mosques in Christchurch that killed 50 people and left another 50 injured.

The attacks were livestreamed on Facebook.

Morrison says: "Social media companies are international businesses and it's up to the international community to force them to act."

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