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March 22, 2019

Christchurch attacks: Top brands pull ads from Facebook, Google

Top Story

March 22, 2019

WELLINGTON: Several major brands in New Zealand are reported to have withdrawn advertising from Google and Facebook, or are considering doing so, following the livestreaming of the massacre in Christchurch last week that left 50 people dead, international media reported.

ASB Bank, ANZ Bank, TSB, Westpac, Kiwibank, BNZ, Burger King and Lotto NZ are among those who have pulled ads or are considering doing so.

There have been widespread calls for social media to step up efforts to prevent the spread of hate content on their platforms.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been fiercely critical in the wake of the attacks.

“We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and what is said is not the responsibility of the place where they are published,” she told parliament.

“They are the publisher not just the postman. There cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility.”

Not only was the Christchurch killer able to livestream the massacre on Facebook, but the video was still widely available on other platforms hours after the attack.

Facebook says the shootings, which were livestreamed for 17 minutes, were watched by only a small number of people, but accepts that monitoring the uploading of copies is ongoing. It says it blocked or took down some 1.5 million clips of the massacre within 24 hours of the shootings.

As Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a recent blog, “People’s private communications should be secure. End-to-end encryption prevents anyone – including us – from seeing what people share on our services.”

Writing in The Guardian, professor of public understanding of technology at the Open University John Naughton says encryption could turn out to be a gift for criminals. It’s also a way for Facebook to absolve itself of responsibility, he argues.

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