BUSINESS
03/15/2019 09:04 EDT | Updated 03/17/2019 02:52 EDT

Social Media Companies Race To Take Down Video Of New Zealand Shootings

This isn't the first time a horrific act of violence was streamed live.

Armed police guard the Masijd Ayesha Mosque Auckland, New Zealand on March 15, 2019 following two shootings at mosques in Christchurch.
Phil Walter via Getty Images
Armed police guard the Masijd Ayesha Mosque Auckland, New Zealand on March 15, 2019 following two shootings at mosques in Christchurch.

UPDATE - March 16, 2019: The death toll rose to 50 victims after investigators found another body in one of the two mosques that were targeted, said New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

SINGAPORE — Social media platforms Facebook and Twitter said on Friday they would take down content involving mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques that killed at least 49 people and wounded more than 20.

A suspected gunman broadcast live footage on Facebook of the attack on one mosque in the city of Christchurch, mirroring the carnage played out in video games, after publishing a "manifesto" in which he denounced immigrants.

Watch: 'No place in the world' for extremism, New Zealand PM says after shootings.

The video footage, posted online live as the attack unfolded, appeared to show him driving to one mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people inside.

Worshippers, possibly dead or wounded, lay huddled on the floor, the video showed. Reuters was unable to confirm the authenticity of the footage.

"Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter's Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video," Facebook tweeted.

"We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we're aware."

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Twitter said it had "rigorous processes and a dedicated team in place for managing exigent and emergency situations" such as this.

"We also cooperate with law enforcement to facilitate their investigations as required," it said.

Alphabet Inc's YouTube said: "Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage."

Live streaming services have become a central component of social media companies' growth strategy in recent years, but they are also increasingly exploited by some users to livestream offensive and violent content.

In 2017, a father in Thailand broadcast himself killing his daughter on Facebook Live. After more than a day, and 370,000 views, Facebook removed the video. That year, a video of a man shooting and killing another in Cleveland also shocked viewers.

(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar; Writing by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Nick Macfie)