The attack on two mosques in New Zealand last week was a cowardly act of terrorism, committed by an extremist desperate to give publicity to his brand of hatred. Disturbingly, his efforts to publicise his hateful views were assisted by social and traditional media publishers.
Not only was the terrorist able to broadcast the attack live through Facebook and other social media platforms, but footage from the video was then published by the websites of The Mirror, The Sun and The Daily Mail.
The Daily Mail’s website even made the attacker’s 74-page manifesto of hate available to download in full.
And while Facebook moderators were attempting to shut down the shooter’s live stream and any reproduction of it from the platform, some newspaper publishers were actively uploading clips to their websites.
Now the Head of Counter Terrorism Policing Neil Basu has written an open letter condemning the role of national newspapers in spreading extremist propaganda.
Neil Basu writes:
“A piece of extremist propaganda might reach tens of thousands of people naturally through their own channels or networks, but the moment a national newspaper publishes it in full then it has a potential reach of tens of millions. We must recognise this as harmful to our society and security.”
Nathan Sparkes, Hacked Off, said:
“These media companies – Facebook, The Mirror, Twitter, The Sun, YouTube and The Daily Mail – all share moral responsibility for hosting, publicising and amplifying the views of a violent, racist extremist.
“Yet none of these companies are regulated. While Facebook handle complaints internally, most media publishers also mark their own homework through membership of IPSO – an industry association deprived of industry and political independence, and starved of regulatory powers.
“The lack of accountability and regulation for these companies seriously jeopardise the safety of our country and its citizens. Without introducing independent regulation, the likes of Facebook, the MailOnline, and other media companies are able to assist in spreading the propaganda of hate in the future.
“In the interests of national security the Government must take action to ensure the independent regulation of media companies as Leveson recommended.”
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Hacked Off alongside Media Diversity Institute published an open letter demanding press protections for marginalised groups targeted affected by racism in the media that has gathered over a 100 prominent signatories.