New Zealand terror video on social media sparks reactions. But are platforms feeling accountable?

The live streaming of shooting by New Zealand mass shooter last fortnight and the video going viral have generated a lot of heat against social media giants. Social media platforms could not perhaps have stopped the live streaming of the act of terror for some seconds, but they were expected to stop it from going 'viral'. By the time it was wiped out, it was circulating for almost half a day.
Facebook, on which the live stream was shown, said it 'quickly' removed 1.5 million videos from the platform. But the fact is that The Christchurch mosque shootout was seen on all major social network platforms and then traveled to television channels - effectively, many million people must have watched it.


social media and crime, terror

Such display of terror is abhorrent and against media norms. However, beyond that, such grossly violent content has the potential to influence young people who might get thrill out of an act that confirms that the type of violence they witness on - and even take part in - video games is thrilling and very much doable. For terrorists, such videos are handy for radicalizing the youth and provoking mass vengeance. 
The lack of responsibility and accountability of social media platforms needs no elucidation. It is widely reported that harmful content on social media is leading to suicides and mental health issues among teens and young adults. There is rise in cases of cyber-bullying, which also threatens to shake confidence of young people in themselves. Social media is being used by terrorists, smugglers and other criminals with abandon.
Governments and UN agencies need to be firm in enforcing accountability in social media platforms. This should go hand in hand with severe penalties for non-compliance. If not, the enforcement agencies are also to blame for the mess being created by these platforms.
The only way out to rid the social media of toxic content is the platforms' full commitment rather than lip service and getting away with statements like ''We are working closely with governments to find a solution. "
Last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison met social giants, Facebook, Google and Twitter, with the threat that their executives in Australia could face jail if they do not remove terror content from their platforms. The meeting with Australian PM mentioned was described by an official as not very productive as social media giants insisted that they were doing all that could be done. 
US Congress has called upon Facebook, which was the primary source of terror-related live stream in this case, to behave.
In India, in the wake of ongoing elections, the Election Commission has taken many actions in concert with social platforms and they have assured all the needed action; they have also appointed a 24x7 grievance officer especially for elections. Some of them have put in place mechanisms to filter toxic content and limit forwarding of messages. But there seems scope for much better action.
EU has, in recent years, severely penalized some tech giants for omissions and commissions. Other countries need to also be strict.
New Zealand has enforced a 14-year jail and up to $10k fine for possessing that particular video. The government has also started forensic probe on the spread of the live stream and subsequent videos on social networks. Similar actions must come from others.
However, there is this other side of the coin. There are suggestions in the media, whether live streaming may be stopped all together on the social media. Some people are suggesting that social network and sharing platform must pre-filter user content. All such steps seem too reactive and regressive.
Another word of caution: in trying to make the social media giants accountable, governments should not themselves get carried away. While responsible governments may follow rules, rogue governments may find it a great handle to stifle all forms of dissent.

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