Facebook has claimed it removed over 1.5m videos of the killings of 50 people in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week.
In the aftermath of the attacks, the country’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the social network had “questions to answer” over the distressing content that was allowed to be uploaded to and then shared on the platform.
Mia Garlick, a spokeswoman for Facebook New Zealand, responded: "We continue to work around the clock to remove violating content using a combination of technology and people. In the first 24 hours we removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally, of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload.
“Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities, we're also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content."
The alleged shooter, Brentan Tarrant, is reported to have used Facebook to live-stream part of the attack.
Footage was also uploaded to other video platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Twitter which all tried to remove the content as quickly as it was being uploaded and shared.
In a statement, a Google spokesperson said: “Our hearts go out to the victims of this terrible tragedy. Shocking, violent and graphic content has no place on our platforms, and is removed as soon as we become aware of it. As with any major tragedy, we will work cooperatively with the authorities.”
Twitter echoed this in a statement which read: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the shootings in Christchurch. Twitter has rigorous processes and a dedicated team in place for managing emergency situations such as this. We will also cooperate with law enforcement to facilitate their investigations as required.”
However, it wasn’t just online platforms that came under criticism for the content on their sites. British tabloids were slammed for knowingly publishing footage of the attack and monetizing it by allowing advertisers to promote their wares against the footage.
The Mail, The Sun and The Mirror all ran excerpts of the video on their sites with brands including London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and Coral unwittingly having their ads served in close proximity to the content.
All three publishers have since removed the videos and issued apologies.