'Your silence is an insult to our grief': Facebook infuriated a New Zealand official with its sluggish response to the Christchurch massacre

  • New Zealand’s top privacy official is attacking Facebook for its lack of communication following the Christchurch massacre earlier this month.
  • Privacy Commissioner John Edwards shared an email he sent to Facebook’s executives with the New Zealand Herald, in which he said: “Your silence is an insult to our grief.”
  • Edwards has already expressed his frustration with the tech giant following the shootings, which were broadcast live on its platform.

New Zealand’s privacy commissioner has skewered Facebook for its lack of response following the mass shootings in two Christchurch mosques, which were broadcast live on Facebook by the alleged shooter.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards on Monday gave the New Zealand Herald a copy of an email he sent to Facebook executives in which he voiced his frustrations.

“It would be very difficult for you and your colleagues to overestimate the growing frustration and anger here at Facebook’s facilitation of and inability to mitigate the deep, deep pain and harm from the live-streamed massacre of our colleagues, family members and countrymen broadcast over your network,” the email said.

“Your silence is an insult to our grief.”


Read more:
Facebook says no one reported the New Zealand mosque shootings live video. But a reporter says he raised the alarm mid-attack.

Edwards has expressed his frustration over Facebook’s lack of communication before. Last week, he tweeted that prior to the massacre, he had video-conferenced with Facebook and the company had promised to keep an open and regular line of communication. He added that he hadn’t heard from the company since March 15, when the shootings took place.

Edwards asked Facebook to hand over account details of those who shared the video of the attack after the company announced on March 18 that fewer than 200 people watched the video while it was still live, and it was viewed a total of 4,000 times before Facebook removed it.

Facebook’s VP of global policy Monika Bickert told the Herald that she would not “weigh in” on Edwards’ demand. She said Facebook has to follow the law when it comes to divulging account details, and that normally Facebook only gives them over to police if there is “something like an imminent threat of violence.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also criticised Facebook or facilitating the proliferation of the attacker’s footage, although she was in contact with COO Sheryl Sandberg over the issue.

The company announced last week that it removed some 1.5 million copies of the video in the 24 hours following the attack – 1.2 million of which it was able to block at upload.

Facebook did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.