In a letter to the New Zealand Herald, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has addressed how the company will attempt to strengthen its rules around live video in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack which left 50 people dead.

The white supremacist who carried out the attack streamed it live to the social media platform, after which the video was shared and viewed thousands of times.

“Many of you have also rightly questioned how online platforms such as Facebook were used to circulate horrific videos of the attack,” Sandberg said in her letter, which was published in full by the NZ Herald. “We are committed to reviewing what happened and have been working closely with the New Zealand Police to support their response.”

“In the immediate aftermath, we took down the alleged terrorist’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, removed the video of the attack, and used artificial intelligence to proactively find and prevent related videos from being posted.”

She goes on to acknowledges calls for further action from governments and communities. The Australian government has gone as far as to suggest laws which could see social media executives face jail time. While that’s not specifically addressed in the letter, Sandberg says the company will be taking action.

“In the wake of the terror attack, we are taking three steps: strengthening the rules for using Facebook Live, taking further steps to address hate on our platforms, and supporting the New Zealand community,” she said.

On the first note, while vague, the new rules aim to restrict who can go live depending on things like “prior Community Standard violations”. On top of that, the company will also invest in better technology to identify edited duplicates of violent videos to stop them from being re-shared.

“While the original video was shared Live, we know that this video spread mainly through people re-sharing it and re-editing it to make it harder for our systems to block it; we have identified more than 900 different videos showing portions of those horrifying 17 minutes,” Sandberg said.

Facebook has already said it will ban white nationalist and white separatist groups from the platform, with the letter confirming that groups like Lads Society, the United Patriots Front, the Antipodean Resistance, and National Front New Zealand” will be booted if they haven’t already.

Facebook will also be supporting New Zealand by providing support to four local mental health organisations, as well as working to raise awareness and education around “peer support and resilience”.

Sandberg notes that those with bad intentions will always try to circumvent rules and restrictions in place, but by aiming to stay ahead of the curve, it’s hoped the company will be able to at least become better at recognising and reacting when these people slip through the cracks.

You can read Sandberg’s letter in full right here.

Source: New Zealand Herald
Image: Getty Images