News World NZ commissioner lashes ‘morally bankrupt’ Facebook
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NZ commissioner lashes ‘morally bankrupt’ Facebook

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New Zealand's privacy commissioner has slammed Facebook over livestreaming of disturbing content. Photo: Simon Rankin
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New Zealand’s privacy commissioner has attacked social media giant Facebook, calling it “morally bankrupt” for its response to the Christchurch terror attack.

Commissioner John Edwards has been raising concerns since the March 15 shootings at two mosques were live-streamed and the video captured and distributed, arguing the privacy of victims was breached.

On Sunday, he took to social media in a series of posts, expressing his frustration with Facebook and saying it could not be trusted.

“They are morally bankrupt pathological liars who enable genocide (Myanmar), facilitate foreign undermining of democratic institutions,” he said.

“(They) allow the live-streaming of suicides, rapes, and murders, continue to host and publish the mosque attack video, allow advertisers to target ‘Jew haters’ and other hateful market segments, and refuse to accept any responsibility for any content or harm.”

Comment has been requested from Facebook.

In an interview with the US’s ABC last week, the social media giant’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, was resistant to adding a delay to its live-stream feature, saying it would “fundamentally break what live-streaming is for people”.

It took about 29 minutes for the live video of the Christchurch shootings to be flagged. Although the initial stream had only 200 viewers, more than a million copies had to be taken down by Facebook within a day, while the effort to block new posts is ongoing.

Mr Edwards said social media companies needed to take responsibility for the content they posted, but New Zealand also needed to consider new laws regulating social media – as Australia had done following the attack.

“Maybe a delay on live-streaming would be a good thing as an interim measure until they can sort out their AI,” Mr Edwards told Radio NZ on Monday.

“Maybe they just need to turn it off altogether … It’s a technology that is capable of causing great harm.”

Social media executives whose websites broadcast horrific terror attacks could face jail or billions of dollars in fines under new laws rushed through by Australia’s government in response to the shooting.

British politicians have also flagged plans for new laws to make social media companies more responsible.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last month said senior government ministers had been discussing the issue.

Last month, Mr Zuckerberg also called for governments to take a more active role in regulating social media companies.

Facebook has also said it will ban content supporting white nationalism and is introducing stricter rules on advertising ahead of European Parliament elections in May.

-with AAP