New Zealand, France Co-Host Virtual Summit Regarding Christchurch Terror Attack Video And Extremist Content Moderation

(New York, N.Y.) – Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Executive Director David Ibsen released the following statement today as major tech companies and public officials meet virtually to discuss the March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings and efforts to remove the infamous attack video online. The perpetrator, Brenton Tarrant, livestreamed his assault and, in the immediate aftermath of the terror attack, footage from the video was reuploaded over a million times on Facebook and other online platforms. The video can be found on the Internet today, potentially inspiring extremists worldwide.

“The fact that the Christchurch attack video can still be found online two years later is unacceptable. The greater the availability, the greater the chance of online radicalization and further atrocities. Although progress has been made in removing it from the Internet, more must be done. The solutions are not new or unknown to the tech companies, which must consistently and transparently enforce their own existing policies and terms of service to prohibit the video from appearing.

“CEP routinely finds examples of the attack video or those praising it online, and this week found multiple examples on Google-owned YouTube that glorified the terrorist. Further, although tech companies will almost certainly return to the familiar refrain of wanting to balance content moderation with freedom of speech, U.S. law extends no such protection from the regulation of speech by anyone outside the government. Tech companies are free to remove whatever content they wish, and in the case of extremist content they should do so. This is vital for public safety and the fight against terror.”

Christchurch Attack Video Located On The Internet Archive, Accounts Praising Attacker Located On YouTube

The week of May 9 to May 15, CEP researchers located three accounts on YouTube that glorified the Christchurch terrorist. Two accounts used positive drawings of the attacker as their user icon and were named for the terrorist, while the final account used a photo of the terrorist as its user icon and was also named for him. The Christchurch terrorist, Brenton Tarrant, was sentenced to life in prison for murdering 51 people, injuring 40 others, and committing a crime of terrorism.

CEP has also located four different uploads of the Christchurch attack video on the Internet Archive. All uploaded in 2021, the videos were added in January, February, and two in April and had 226 views, 43 views, ten, and four, respectively. CEP has repeatedly found versions of the attack video and content praising the attacker on the Internet Archive. 

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On October 27, 2018, domestic terrorist Robert D. Bowers carried out an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He fired on congregants as they gathered for worship, killing 11 people and wounding six others.

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