On 15 March at least 49 people were shot dead in two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch. Speaking to Sputnik, professor of international law Alexander Gillespie, and Laura Bliss, a British expert on social media law, shared their opinions on the latest developments related to the Friday terror attack.
New Zealand's national security threat level has been raised following the Friday assault on two Christchurch mosques which claimed the lives of about 49 people and left more than 20 injured.
One of the alleged perpetrators, a 28-year-old Australian who identified himself as Brenton Tarrant, live-streamed the shooting for almost 17 minutes on Facebook with a GoPro camera. Prior to the assault, the Australian wrote a 73-page manifesto that detailed his plan to carry a "terrorist attack" and called himself a "fascist".
While social media platforms Twitter, Instagram and Facebook rushed to suspend the shooter's accounts following the attack, they failed to timely raise the alarm over the 17-minute footage of the attack, Laura Bliss, a British expert on social media law from the Edge Hill University, highlighted.
"With regard to Twitter's lack of response with the shooting video, it is clear that social media is providing a new way to commit extremist behaviour and it is something all social media companies need to tackle", she opined.The British social media expert stressed that "though all these companies have terms of service agreements in place, it is clear that mistakes are continuing to occur".
"For me, part of the problem is the lack of consistency between service agreements and their application to real scenarios", she said. "Twitter, and other social media companies need to be more open with how they train moderators and what they are doing to resolve these issues. I think it is about time that universal codes of conduct where put in place to create consistency across all platforms".
New Zealand police called upon social media users not to circulate the footage of the attack: "It shouldn't be in the public domain and we are doing everything we can to remove it," police chief Mike Bush told journalists.
Speaking to Sputnik, Alexander Gillespie, professor of international law at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, opined that the shooting incident came out of the blue: "Our terror rating for our country before this incident was classified as low; and it moved up from very low in 2014."
"New Zealand has been completely blindsided by what's happened; we've had no idea that was going to happen with us", he said. "Last year we rated the second most peaceful country on the planet."According to Gillsepie, "extreme" right-wing groups have never posed a challenge to New Zealand's security: "There were always problems on the streets maybe with fights with young people — but they've never seemed to represent an extreme terror as what's happened here".
Gillsepie specified that it was still "unknown whether the shooter was licensed or unlicensed" and whether he got his weapons from a legal source or modified them.
The attack took place around 01:40 p.m. local time on 15 March. One of the four suspects detained by the police in connection with the attacks has been indicted on murder charges and will appear in court tomorrow. One person is believed to be innocent while two others still remain under investigation.
The views and opinions expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.