Turkey’s President Broadcasts Footage of Terrorist Attacks As Social Media Giants Under Pressure to Remove It

March 19, 2019 Updated: March 19, 2019

As global pressure is mounting for social media giants to remove footage of the New Zealand Christchurch mosque attacks from their platforms, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used part of the footage as an election campaign prop in his rallies to secure votes for local elections this month.

Erdogan screened partially blurry footage of the shootings with the caption, “A terrorist who is the enemy of Islam and the Turks,” during a number of election campaign events over the weekend, the Financial Times reported.

The 17-minute footage of the fatal mosque shootings was first live-streamed by the accused gunman on Facebook, and the social media tech giant—along with Twitter and Google’s YouTube—is struggling to spot new uploads despite enforcing a ban on the clip, reports The Guardian.

The calls follow Facebook admitting to removing 1.5 million videos around the world in the first 24 hours following the massacre which claimed the lives of 50.

“In the first 24 hours we removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally, of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload … ,” Facebook Newsroom wrote on Twitter on March 16.

But Facebook failed to remove one version of the footage monitored by the Guardian for over six hours, while other versions on YouTube were left live for at least three hours.

The governments of New Zealand, Britain, and Australia have urged the tech giants to do more to halt the spreading of offensive material and terrorist content online.

Speaking to the Daily Express, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid said social media platforms must do more to tackle offensive content or face legal ramifications, saying they had a “responsibility not to do the terrorists’ work for them.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s opposition leader Bill Shorten said during a press conference, that online platforms had an “obligation to better monitor and prevent hate speech.”

“We wouldn’t allow television or print media to put some of the filth and rubbish and violence and perversion that gets put out on social media, so we can’t just have one standard for old technology and give a leave pass to new technology,” he added.

International media sites such as the Mirror, MailOnline, and the Sun have also been met with intense scrutiny over their decision publish parts of the footage.

MailOnline published a story which included an 18-second clip of the attack in al-Noor mosque in Christchurch on autoplay, with part of the clip featuring on the site’s homepage. The media site also uploaded an alleged 74-page manifesto from the suspected gunman.

Both the footage and the manifesto were removed after the site received barrage of complaints, while The Mirror also removed its edited footage filmed in the Christchurch mosque, the Guardian reported.

New Zealand’s foreign minister, Winston Peters, hit out at the move saying such politicization of the attacks “imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad, and it’s totally unfair.”

The death toll from the fatal attack on two Christchurch mosques rose to 50 on Sunday, with victims from at least 15 countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, The Times reported.