Social Media and the Christchurch Massacre

In the days after the Christchurch massacre, Mia Garlick led an international campaign to push social media companies to limit the availability of violent videos.

The search for missing New Zealand real estate agent Yanfei Bao is ramping up, with police focussing on a house in Hornby that she was due to show a potential buyer through last week.

What we do

A grainy video with a video-game aesthetic begins playing on the screen. At first, it seems to be a work of fiction, but soon it becomes clear that the images are real. They are of a mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques, in which fifty people were killed and dozens more wounded. The shooter appeared to be filming the attack for an online audience, and he was live-streaming it as well.

The shooting has focused attention on the role of social media in the spread of violent extremism and hate speech. Almost every major platform has taken steps to keep violence off its sites, adding new features for privacy and security, hiring armies of moderators, and collaborating with academics on policies that will improve the system.

But this is an imperfect world, and bad content often slips through the cracks. The Christchurch shootings showed how easily a live video can make its way into distinct internet subcultures, and how aware the attacker was of his audience.

One developer that’s trying to change that is Brooksfield. They build English, heritage-style properties that are different from most of the new-build townhouses in Christchurch. Their designs have flair, and they use weatherboard façades, which are a rarity in New Zealand. Their floor plans are also unique compared to other Christchurch developers, with many featuring a hallway between the lounge and kitchen-dining areas that’s more typical of London homes.

Why we do it

When a video of the Christchurch shootings surfaced online, it was shocking not just for the violence but also for how unmistakably digital it felt. It was a mass shooting in the era of social media, and the perpetrator seemed acutely aware of how his act would be viewed and interpreted by distinct internet subcultures. The shooter even live-streamed the massacre from a mobile phone, making it a first of its kind.

Facebook, like most other social-media platforms, has worked to keep violence off its site. It has given users new features for privacy and security, hired armies of moderators, and consulted with academics to create better policies. But even when these measures are in place, the Christchurch attacks may have shown that it’s impossible to stop terrorism and extremism from spreading on the web.

For some bad actors, the Christchurch attack was a way to thumb their nose at authority. But many more posted the video in good faith, to express sympathy or solidarity with victims, or out of curiosity. For consistency, and in deference to a request from the New Zealand government, Facebook teams deleted those posts as well.

The Mackies have dedicated a decade of their lives to restoring their 140-year-old homestead, but they feel the council is shifting the goalposts. They want to move it a kilometre down the road into a character area, where zoning rules prevent neighbours from growing up and around it.

How we do it

The perpetrator of the mosque shootings in New Zealand broadcast his murderous rampage to the world through a live-stream on Facebook. Grainy and with a video-game aesthetic, the footage was terrifyingly real. He used references to previous shooters, YouTube stars, and far-right symbols as hooks for attracting attention and communicating with an international audience.

The shooter identified himself as an Australian and espoused racist, anti-immigrant views. He used the platform’s free, simple tools to spread his propaganda before police even made an arrest. In his effort to maximize impact, he exploited the design features of his target platforms: pinned tweets sent directly to users’ screens; automated “trending” hashtags; and YouTube’s spiritual home of rubbernecking.

Social media is a powerful tool for disseminating violent material, but it also creates new vulnerabilities. One of these is the role it can play in legitimizing violence and encouraging people to seek out more of it. For example, the Christchurch shooter’s use of videos he had previously filmed and uploaded to YouTube was designed to generate interest in his work.

Why you should do it

After the Christchurch shootings, Facebook’s engineers were tasked with figuring out how to prevent such attacks in the future. “The most important thing is to make it as difficult for bad actors to spread their content,” says Adam Hadley, the director of Tech Against Terrorism, a nonprofit that works on behalf of the UN to help tech companies counter terrorist exploitation of their platforms.

One of the tools they used was a hash databank, which takes a fingerprint of a video and creates a unique code that can be searched for and matched to the original. But some users purposefully or accidentally manipulated videos, creating slightly different hash codes, so that the hash wouldn’t be flagged by the system and they could pass through the firewall.

Opes has stopped recommending property video Christchurch that are over $750k, as it may be more worthwhile to invest in Auckland or Wellington where we expect capital growth to be much faster. But if you are able to park your money in Christchurch, here are three examples of the types of properties we’re currently recommending:

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *