Facebook rules out time delays to live broadcasts after Christchurch attacks


Facebook has said it will not add a time delay to live user broadcasts following the Christchurch terror attacks, which was streamed on the social network.

Some have suggested a delay to broadcasts, similar to some live TV channels, could have enabled the company to pull down the video sooner.

The social network has rejected the idea, saying it could actually make matters worse.

“There are millions of live broadcasts daily, which means a delay would not help address the problem due to the sheer number of videos,” said Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice-president of integrity.

“More importantly, given the importance of user reports, adding a delay would only further slow down videos getting reported, reviewed and first responders being alerted to provide help on the ground.”

Tech giants have turned to artificial intelligence to automatically detect illegal content in recent years but the social network admitted the video did not trigger its systems because AI relies on thousands of examples of “training data”.

“This approach has worked very well for areas such as nudity, terrorist propaganda and also graphic violence where there is a large number of examples we can use to train our systems,” Mr Rosen explained.

“However, this particular video did not trigger our automatic detection systems.

“To achieve that we will need to provide our systems with large volumes of data of this specific kind of content, something which is difficult as these events are thankfully rare.”

Facebook’s AI was also duped by edits and manipulations of the video, making it harder to trace, but used experimental audio matching technology to recognise sounds instead.

New Zealand Mosque Shooting
New Zealand Mosque Shooting

No-one reported the video of the Christchurch terror attack while it was being streamed live, the social network revealed on Wednesday.

It was 29 minutes after the video had started – and 12 minutes after it had ended – before the first user flagged up the footage.

Approximately 300,000 additional copies were taken down after they were posted.

“As a learning from this, we are re-examining our reporting logic and experiences for both live and recently live videos in order to expand the categories that would get to accelerated review,” Mr Rosen continued.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has announced an immediate ban on sales of “military-style” semi-automatic and automatic weapons, in response to the attacks on two mosques that killed 50 worshippers.