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Protecting the Internet After Christchurch: Far Easier Said Than Done

March 20, 2019 in Economics

By Matthew Feeney

Matthew Feeney

Last week a man in Christchurch, New Zealand filmed himself murdering 50 Muslims at their places of worship. Daoud Nabi, an Afghan who fled to New Zealand to escape the Soviet-Afghan war, greeted the shooter saying, “Hello, brother,” before the shooter murdered him. The shooter’s livestream cut out after he conducted his slaughter inside the Al Noor Mosque and before he continued his rampage at the Linwood Islamic Centre.

Since the shooting, there have been calls for internet giants to do something to address the spread of graphic content. Anyone with an ounce of sympathy understands these calls, but we should keep in mind the difficulties associated with content moderation and the risks of crackdowns on particular kinds of content.

The scale of last week’s attack may be difficult for many Americans to appreciate at first glance. New Zealand is a small country, about the same size as Colorado with a population a little higher than Louisiana’s. It’s also a country with a strong outdoor culture. As the son of a New Zealander, I grew up with stories of my father and his brothers playing rugby, spear-fishing, and rabbit hunting. On recent trips to New Zealand, I’ve shot handguns and semi-automatic rifles at a gun club. There are about three citizens for every gun in New Zealand.

Despite what many people think about the relationship between the number of guns in a country and crime rates New Zealand is a peaceful country, with a homicide rate far lower than that of the United States. In such a small and peaceful place an attack like the one last week is rare, and its impact profound. Although New Zealand authorities have yet to finalize recent homicide data, it looks likely that the gunman killed more people than were murdered in the entire nation in 2017. The shooter deployed this barbarity in about half an hour.

It’s unclear how many people have watched the Christchurch murders video. According to Facebook, users viewed the original video 4,000 times. The social media giant removed 1.5 million videos of the attack within 24 hours. Other websites, including YouTube, scrambled to remove it.

While Americans are no strangers to mass shootings, there is something alien and at the same time uniquely 21st century about the Christchurch murders. Video of murders posted on social media sites are relatively rare, though not unheard of. The Christchurch shooter, a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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