Weapon of terror

Jacinda Ardern reveals how she inadvertently saw footage of Christchurch attack

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives to attend Islamic prayers in Hagley Park near Al Noor mosque on March 22, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern has revealed that she was among the social media users who inadvertently saw footage of the Christchurch terror attack, which ultimately took the lives of 51 people.

In a piece written for the Opinion section of the New York Times, Ardern expresses her deep concern at the apparent “new trend that seems to be spreading around the world,” to optimize the devastating impact of terror attacks by livestreaming them. “It was designed to be broadcast on the internet,” she wrote, in the piece ‘How to Stop the Next Christchurch Massacre,’ that was  published on Saturday.

The reach of the video was staggering, she writes: “Original footage of the live stream was viewed some 4,000 times before being removed from Facebook. Within the first 24 hours, 1.5 million copies of the video had been taken down from the platform. There was one upload per second to YouTube in the first 24 hours.”

Notably, the Prime Minister — whose empathetic leadership style has been widely acknowledged — shares a personal piece of information: “I know the reach of this video was vast, because I too inadvertently saw it.”

While the nation’s first decisive action to prevent such another attack was to implement stricter gun control, Ardern is concerned to also address the “terrorist’s other weapon” —  “live-streaming the attack on social media to spread his hateful vision and inspire fear.”

To that end, she explains, she will be joined by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Wednesday, in leading a meeting of politicians, heads of state, and leaders of technology companies, with the aim collaboratively “to end terrorist and violent extremist content online.”

At the meeting, nations and private corporations will be asked to make changes that would prevent the posting of terrorist content online, to ensure its efficient and fast removal and to prevent the use of live-streaming as a tool for broadcasting terrorist attacks.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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