- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2019

Social media companies raced to purge their platforms of footage broadcast live on the internet of a deadly shooting near a synagogue Wednesday in Halle, Germany.

The rampage was livestreamed for 35 minutes on Twitch, a broadcasting platform popular among gamers, and copies were subsequently posted and shared on other sites and services.

Twitch said in a statement that only five people watched the broadcast as it occurred, but that a recording of the livestream was automatically uploaded to the platform afterward and viewed by approximately 2,200 people before being taken down 30 minutes later.

The Amazon-owned company added that a unique digital fingerprint for the video, or “hash,” was subsequently shared with an industry consortium to help prevent its proliferation, although The Washington Times located a copy of the video within moments of searching online Thursday.

“We take this extremely seriously and are committed to working with industry peers, law enforcement and any relevant parties to protect our community,” Twitch said in the statement.



The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism — a consortium founded in 2017 by Silicon Valley titans including Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube — confirmed that it added hashes related to the Halle footage in a shared database used by its members to keep it from circulating.

“We are in close contact with each other and remain committed to disrupting the online spread of violent and extremist content,” the group said in a statement.

German police said a suspect identified only as Stephan B. was arrested in connection with the rampage, which started outside a synagogue on Yom Kippur and resulted in the deaths of two people nearby.

The incident came on the heels of a gunman using Facebook to livestream a deadly rampaged waged in March at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing dozens of people and triggering calls for Silicon Valley to prevent the proliferation of extremist content.

Users of several internet forums shared links to the Halle shooting video that could be downloaded Thursday, while one website known for publishing anti-Semitic screeds had posted links to the video and a minute-by-minute breakdown of the rampage written by a message board user from another site. 

Australia previously implemented strict new social media laws after an Aussie killed 51 people during the Christchurch shootings, which carries criminal sanctions for companies that fail to promptly remove “abhorrent” content.

More recently, the results of a new poll released Wednesday found that the majority of U.S. adults surveyed nationwide — 59% — think the government should play a role in crafting the content moderation policies used by social media companies.

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