Facebook continues its crackdown on the unpleasant elements of its online platform, with a tightening of the rules of its live streaming feature.
Soon after the massacre of 51 Muslims in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March – an attack that was partly livestreamed online, Facebook announced the ban of “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism on Facebook and Instagram.”
It has followed this up with calls for more online regulation and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to work with governments around the world to ensure more privacy and tougher rules surrounding online hate.
Facebook made clear it that the New Zealand massacre has prompted the change, after the attack was livestreamed on the platform.
Following the horrific terrorist attacks in New Zealand, we’ve been reviewing what more we can do to limit our services from being used to cause harm or spread hate,” the social networking platform announced.
“As a direct result, starting today, people who have broken certain rules on Facebook including our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy – will be restricted from using Facebook Live.”
“Tackling these threats also requires technical innovation to stay ahead of the type of adversarial media manipulation we saw after Christchurch when some people modified the video to avoid detection in order to repost it after it had been taken down,” said Facebook.
It is reported that Facebook had to remove 1.5 million videos globally that contained footage of the attack within the first 24 hours after the shooting.
Facebook also identified more than 900 different versions of the video.
“The overwhelming majority of people use Facebook Live for positive purposes, like sharing a moment with friends or raising awareness for a cause they care about,” it said. “Still, Live can be abused and we want to take steps to limit that abuse.”
Facebook said it was now applying a “one-strike” policy for use of Facebook Live.
“From now on, anyone who violates our most serious policies will be restricted from using Live for set periods of time – for example 30 days – starting on their first offense,” it warned. “We plan on extending these restrictions to other areas over the coming weeks, beginning with preventing those same people from creating ads on Facebook.”
The move was welcomed in New Zealand as a good first step.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was quoted by Reuters as saying that the change addressed a key component of an initiative, known as the “Christchurch Call”, she is spearheading to halt the spread of online violence.
“Facebook’s decision to put limits on live streaming is a good first step to restrict the application being used as a tool for terrorists, and shows the Christchurch Call is being acted on,” she said in an email from her spokesman.