March 26, 2019 2:02 am

Christchurch shooting video triggers lawsuit against Facebook and YouTube by French Muslim group

March 15: The mass murder in New Zealand was broadcast on a Facebook live stream. As Seán O'Shea reports, video of the shooting was available to millions worldwide to the horror of critics.

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One of the main groups representing Muslims in France said on Monday it was suing Facebook and YouTube, accusing them of inciting violence by allowing the streaming of footage of the Christchurch massacre on their platforms.

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) said the companies had disseminated material that encouraged terrorism and harmed the dignity of human beings. There was no immediate comment from either company.

WATCH: March 16 — New Zealand shooting — PM says they’ve attempted to remove video of mosque shootings

The shooting at two mosques in New Zealand on March 15, which killed 50 people, was livestreamed on Facebook for 17 minutes and then copied and shared on social media sites across the internet.

Facebook said it raced to remove hundreds of thousands of copies.

However, footage could still be found on Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube a few hours after the attack, as well as Facebook-owned Instagram and Whatsapp.

READ MORE: New Zealand’s inquiry into mosque shootings will look at social media, spy agencies and guns

Abdallah Zekri, president of the CFCM’s Islamophobia monitoring unit, said the organization had launched a formal legal complaint against Facebook and YouTube in France.

Both companies have faced widespread criticism over the footage.

The chair of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security wrote a letter to top executives of four major technology companies last week urging them to do a better job of removing violent political content.

WATCH: March 24 — New Zealand PM announces Inquiry into Christchurch shootings


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A spokesman for the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) welcomed the French group’s action. He said his organization had been planning to contact Facebook to register their complaint but had been busy dealing with the aftermath of the attacks.

“They have failed big time, this was a person who was looking for an audience and … you were the platform he chose to advertise himself and his heinous crime,” said FIANZ spokesman Anwar Ghani, referring to Facebook.

READ MORE: New Zealand shooting raises free speech debate after manifesto banned

“We haven’t been in touch with the (French) group … but certainly something which can deter the social media space in terms of these types of crimes, we would be supportive of that,” he said.

A man has been charged with one count of murder over the Christchurch shootings and will next appear in court on April 5.

© 2019 Thomson Reuters

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