Live Killing Videos Show Internet Self-Regulation “Not Working”

David Shanks felt a familiar, deep sense of anguish when he learned over the weekend that a video that was spreading fast online was showing the mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket.

Just three years ago, Mr Shanks was directly and personally confronted with the question of how to stop the broadcast of a video of the horrific shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Mr. Shanks recently completed his five-year term as “Chief Censor” in New Zealand. This week he is in Winnipeg, along with other international experts, to develop strategies for dealing with dangerous digital spaces.

Following the “live filming” of Saturday’s filming in the United States, a particular sense of urgency permeated the Winnipeg conference, organized by the Canadian Center for Child Protection.

Mr Shanks, who was overseeing compliance with digital content regulations five years ago, was particularly shocked when a white supremacist entered two mosques in New Zealand and killed 50 people and injured many more. However, the killer also broadcast his massacre live on Facebook.

The use of social media in this violent attack was unprecedented. The video spread quickly online, and widely. “I immediately realized that we were facing not only a horrific terrorist attack, but also a terrible media event,” Mr. Shanks. [La vidéo] multiplied and even recommended to users of some platforms. »

Unlike other countries, Mr. Shanks had the power to ban video in New Zealand as well as the threatening message posted by the killer. The video has made it illegal in this country to view, own or distribute this video or document.

This quick response from the New Zealand body then opened a global debate on the regulation of the Internet, particularly with regard to harmful or toxic videos.

Experts say regulations are being delayed even as more shooters, inspired by the Christchurch massacre, use the Internet as a tool to spread violent ideology. “And what else do we see? Another tragedy “in Buffalo, Shanks recalled.

“Self-regulation did not work”

U.S. officials say a gunman entered a grocery store in a predominantly black Buffalo neighborhood on Saturday, killing 10 people and wounding three others. The shooting is being investigated at the federal level as a hate crime and is considered a case of violent extremism with supremacist motivation.

According to police, the shooter mounted a camera on his helmet to broadcast his attack live on Twitch, an online gaming site. The move was aimed at echoing the New Zealand massacre, as it sought to inspire other extremists and to spread its racist beliefs, according to police.

Buffalo’s video was quickly tagged by social media platforms, experts say; therefore, it spread much more slowly than Christchurch. But it would still be possible to find it easily on various social networking sites.

John Carr is the UK secretary of a coalition of charities for children interested in internet safety, as well as an adviser on internet safety legislation. He believes Buffalo’s video highlights how the technology sector is not yet sufficiently regulated. It is time, he says, for governments to get involved: self-regulation in the sector, on a voluntary basis, has not worked, he says.

Lianna McDonald, director of the Canadian Center for Child Protection, has seen the lasting and powerful effects of online videos. The center has developed the “Arachnid” project to combat the growing proliferation of child sexual abuse images on the Internet. The online tool scans websites to find these images and is used by police organizations and departments around the world.

Mrs. McDonald points out that lack of regulation can also be detrimental to children. One in three Internet users in the world is a child; is one in five in Canada. Videos can also increase the trauma of the victims, he added. “It’s the worst time of your life and people around the world are watching it.”

The European Union has agreed on a historic rule for web giants. Australia and New Zealand are also moving in the same direction.

Experts point out that more and more countries have decided to regulate this sector, forcing technology companies to act proactively in order to keep their platforms free of violence and safe for users.

Canada has indicated that it is moving in that direction. Mrs. McDonald’s is part of the “Expert Group on Online Security Advisors,” set up by the federal government to help it establish a regulatory framework to combat harmful content online.

McDonald admits there have been some changes in governments and technology platforms, but believes it is too slow. “We have to act now.”

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