Sajid Javid tells social media firms ‘enough is enough’ over terror videos

Home Secretary Sajid Javid says social media can and must work faster to take down offensive videos. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has told social media companies “enough is enough” after footage of the terrorist attack in Christchurch spread rapidly across the networks and around the world.

Reacting to a tweet from YouTube claiming the video-sharing service was working to remove the footage, he said: “You really need to do more @YouTube @Google @facebook @Twitter to stop violent extremism being promoted on your platforms. Take some ownership. Enough is enough.”

Suspect Brenton Tarrant was named in media reports in his home country as the gunman who appeared to have live-streamed the attack.

Some 49 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, were gunned down on Friday morning.

Links to a manifesto and images of the weapons used were posted on Twitter before the murderous attacks.

Labour’s shadow digital secretary Tom Watson‏ said Google’s response was “not good enough” after YouTube “reviewed” a copy of the video before removing it from the site.

Damian Collins, the Tory chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said inquiries should be made into how the footage was shared and “why more effective action wasn’t taken to remove them”.

Mr Collins added that it was “very distressing” that the attack was live streamed on social media, and that “footage was available hours later”.

“There must be a serious review of how these films were shared and why more effective action wasn’t taken to remove them,” he added.

And Downing Street said social media companies need to act “more quickly” to remove terrorist content.

Facebook said it “quickly removed” the video, while YouTube said it was “working vigilantly to remove any violent footage”.

Mr Watson‏ hit out at Google for not taking the video down from YouTube immediately.

He said: “Google have contacted me to explain that they posted the ‘inappropriate’ content warning on the NZ massacre footage while they ‘reviewed the video’ for YouTube.

“Not good enough. They should have just taken it down, then reviewed it.”

Before the shootings began, an anonymous user on messaging forum 8chan posted links to the manifesto and livestream, promising to “carry out an attack”.

8chan and the similar but unaffiliated site 4chan, where users are anonymous by default, have been the subject of controversy in recent years as some users praised US school shootings and far-right terrorist attacks, as well as sharing conspiracy theories, racist memes and images of child sexual abuse.

Mr Collins said: “These platforms are being used to disseminate the vilest content and make people aware of its existence.

“We should look at companies like that and say for them to allow their platforms to be used in that way is damaging to society. It’s hugely harmful.”

He called for a regulator to have the power to sanction companies allowing the spread of “harmful content”, adding that the “ultimate sanction” would be to bar them from the internet.

Facebook New Zealand’s director of policy Mia Garlick said in a statement: “Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this horrendous act.

“New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video.

“We’re also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware.

“We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues.”

YouTube said on Twitter: “Our hearts are broken over today’s terrible tragedy in New Zealand.

“Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage.”

And a Twitter spokeswoman insisted the company had a "rigorous processes and a dedicated team in place for managing exigent and emergency situations such as this".

Meanwhile, Downing Street acknowledged the firms had taken down distressing footage but added: "We are clear that all companies need to act more quickly to remove terrorist content.

“There should be no safe spaces for terrorists to promote and share their extreme views.”