Press Release: Hacked Off analysis of media coverage of the Christchurch Attacks

Christchurch attack:

  • Government criticised for exempting the same publishers from proposed online harms regulator
  • Parliamentary Committees briefed on the role of newspaper publishers in endangering our safety and security


The individual responsible for the terror attack in Christchurch New Zealand on 15th March 2019 broadcasted the attack live on social media site Facebook. Footage from it was then re-published and amplified by three UK-based newspaper websites: The Sun, The Mirror and The Daily Mail.


In summary:


  1. 4000 people watched the original video uploaded by the Christchurch terrorist;
  2. The Sun, Mail and Mirror websites uploaded edited footage to their websites; some of which reach over 7 million people per/day, or 3000 people/minute;
  3. The Mail published the killer’s white supremacist hate “manifesto”;
  4. Since the incident, Neil Basu, head of the UK’s Counter Terrorism Policinghas said publicly that these actions are harmful to our society and security.


While fewer than 200 people viewed the original video on Facebook during the livestream and 4000 viewed the original video on Facebook in total, the newspaper websites which hosted edited footage of it reach thousands of people per minute.


While Facebook were seeking to shut down all further uploads of the video, the Mail, Mirror and Sun were actively choosing to publish footage from it.


In the case of one newspaper website, the terrorist’s white supremacist hate manifesto was republished and made available to download.


Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, Head of Counter Terrorism Policing, has issued an open letter condemning the conduct of these media companies, a copy of which is included below.


Copies of the Report have been shared with the Home Affairs and DCMS Select Committees.


Hacked Off Director Kyle Taylor said:


“We were both devastated and disturbed by the events in New Zealand. Despite several newspapers, journalists and online platforms attempting to absolve themselves of blame for laying the ideological groundwork that led to this and many other racist attacks, it has ignited a global conversation on the role the media plays in encouraging and perpetuating hate.“


“The Sun, Mirror and Mail are not subject to independent regulation, so there is no regulatory way to hold them to account. They are members of the industry complaints-handler IPSO, which does not meet the Press Recognition Panel’s tests for independence and effectiveness.


The actions of these companies now represent a threat to our safety and security, which has been brought about by the absence of reasonable accountability and regulation.”


Hacked Off analysis author, Nathan Sparkes, commented:


“Facebook, YouTube and Twitter failed to act quickly and effectively enough to prevent the murderer’s video from being shared online, but their failures were eclipsed by the three media companies which actively chose to republish edited footage on their websites: those of The Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror.


“These three British media companies may have brought terrorist propaganda to, our analysis suggests, over a million people. In doing so they endangered our safety and security. They did so despite a clear request from the New Zealand police authorities for the footage not to be shared.


The silence on this matter from the press complaints-handler IPSO has been deafening. The Government must ensure that any forthcoming legislation to establish a regulator for online harms covers all sources of harmful content including newspaper publishers who are, at present, exempted from the planned regulation in the Government’s White Paper.”




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Hacked Off is the campaign for a free and accountable press, and we work with the victims of press abuse to achieve those aims.


Link to analysis:


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