Live stream video shows limits of social media moderation: NPR

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The logo of the live video streaming platform Twitch.

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Christophe Ena/AP


The logo of the live video streaming platform Twitch.

Christophe Ena/AP

Investigators are working at the scene of a supermarket shooting in Buffalo, NY on Monday.

Matt Rourke/AP


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Matt Rourke/AP


Investigators are working at the scene of a supermarket shooting in Buffalo, NY on Monday.

Matt Rourke/AP

The suspected perpetrator of Saturday’s mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket live-streamed the racist attack online. Using a GoPro camera attached to a military-style helmet, the shooter livestreamed to the Twitch site for about two minutes before the site deleted the live stream. The video has since been posted elsewhere on the internet.

Experts say platforms could do more to prevent live broadcasts of atrocities from gaining an online audience.

White supremacists have used social media platforms to publicize attacks in the past

Other white supremacists have also taken to social media to publicize gruesome attacks, including the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019.

Since the Christchurch shootings, social media companies have improved in some ways in tackling online atrocity videos, including stopping live streams of attacks more quickly.

But violent videos like those of mass shootings are recorded by some users and then reappear on the internet on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and other platforms. These uploaded videos are harder for companies to remove, says NPR’s Bobby Allyn.

On the Streamable site, the video of the Buffalo shooting had more than 3 million views before being deleted, says Allyn.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said social media companies bear some responsibility when crimes like the Buffalo shootings occur.

“Social media platforms that profit from their existence must be responsible for monitoring and surveillance, knowing that they can be, in a sense, complicit in a crime like this, perhaps not legally but morally “, said Hochul.

Allyn reports that social media companies are generally not held accountable for what they don’t control on their sites. To listen his discussion on Morning edition.

Experts say social media companies could do more

Social media companies used to take a mostly hands-off approach to moderating content on their sites, but now more than ever, sites are trying to manage the societal issues their sites create, Allyn reports. Facebook, Twitter and other sites like them have teams of thousands working to moderate content and stop violent media from reaching people.

For example, Twitch, the site where the Buffalo shooter live streamed, could make it harder to open accounts and instantly download live video. Other video streaming sites like TikTok and YouTube require users to have a certain number of subscribers before they can go live, Allyn reports.

This story originally appeared on the morning edition live blog.

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