Our Statement on ChristChurch Mosque Attacks
We are saddened and horrified to hear about the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of all victims and those injured. We stand against all forms of hate and extremism and the use of online platforms in spreading those messages of fear and violence.
As the story unfolds and more evidence is shared, we are increasingly frustrated to hear about the use of social media in this attack. This is not the first time we’ve seen these platforms used for ill and unfortunately we do not believe it will be the last. One of the attackers posted pictures on Twitter of his weapon and shared his intention to attack. He also posted severals links to his manifesto, an anti-immigration and anti-Islam screed, an hour before the attack on a platform called 8Chan. If we want to become better able to spot and prevent attacks from happening there must be investment in data gathering to identify patterns and join the dots between all forms of online abuse and in real life (IRL) attacks
We call on all platforms to prioritise and invest in the safety and wellbeing of their users, especially the marginalised communities that have historically been targeted the most. IRL attacks such as these could have been prevented and we look forward to hearing social media platforms commit to an investigative review with the aim of implementing new policies and processes. We have questions that must be urgently investigated and answered. How long has this attacker and the group he belongs to been organising via social media platforms? How long was the Facebook livestream allowed to play? Why are these platforms struggling to take down the video?
Social media cannot be used as a tool to further existing inequalities and spread hate. This is why we also call on Governments to invest in digital citizenship and literacy education and ringfence new money for tackling all forms of online abuse. We recommend these funds are used to:
- Enforce existing legislation on online abuse and increase police resources
- Establish new legislation where needed to address hate speech online
- Educate the public on the importance of good online citizenship
- Empower individuals and civil society organisations working to end online abuse
We must stand united and fix the glitch in our online spaces to end all forms of online abuse and prevent IRL attacks from happening.