Thousands watch gunman’s video of attack outside German synagogue, before Twitch pulls the video
A gunman in Germany has killed two people in eastern Germany after attempting to enter a synagogue where people were observing a Jewish holiday.
The suspect is a 27-year-old German who acted alone, according to local media, which also reported that the gunman has since being arrested.
But even worse, it seems that his racist attack was broadcast of the streaming platform Twitch, which admitted that five people had watched the attack as it was broadcast live.
And it had been confirmed that another 2,200 people watched the video in the 30 minutes before it was taken down.
The attack happened in the city of Halle in eastern Germany at about 12:00 local time (10:00 GMT) on Wednesday, the BBC reported.
Twitch typically allows people to watch streams of video-game play, but in 2014 it was acquired by Amazon for $970 million.
According to the BBC, the video showed a man making anti-Semitic comments to camera before driving to a synagogue and shooting at its door.
Failing to get into the synagogue , the gunman then shot dead two people nearby.
“We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected,” Twitch tweeted.
It said that it takes act of violence extremely seriously and it worked “with urgency to remove this content and will permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act.”
“We’re continuing to investigate the Halle event and would like to share what we’ve uncovered,” it added. “The account owner streamed this horrific act live on Twitch for 35 minutes, during which time it was viewed by approximately five people.”
“A recording of the stream, which was automatically generated based on the account’s settings, was viewed by approximately 2200 people in the 30 minutes before the video was flagged and removed from Twitch,” it said.
Twitch said the account had been created two months before the shooting, and the resulting “video was not surfaced in any recommendations or directories; instead, our investigation suggests that people were coordinating and sharing the video via other online messaging services.”
“Once the video was removed, we shared the hash with an industry consortium to help prevent the proliferation of this content,” it added. “We take this extremely seriously and are committed to working with industry peers, law enforcement, and any relevant parties to protect our community.”
The case bears uncomfortable hallmarks of another deadly attack in New Zealand last year.
In March 2018 a gunman massacred 50 people in mosques in Christchurch. That attack was partly live streamed online on Facebook.
Days later Facebook announced the ban of “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism on Facebook and Instagram.”
It also implemented a tightening of the rules of its live streaming feature.