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Shooting in New Zealand as the most documented terrorist attack in the history of social networks

Post on imageboard, Facebook stream, huge manifesto, mention of memes and PewDiePie – the shooter clearly wanted the attack to be discussed from this angle.


Frame with body camera arrow

On March 15, two armed men attacked two mosques in the city of Christchurch in New Zealand. They burst inside and staged a shooting – 49 people became victims of the terrorist attack, another 48 people were injured. The incident has already been called “one of the darkest days in the history of New Zealand.”


Shooting in New Zealand: an ultra right-wing activist called on to subscribe to Pewdiepie and broadcast on social networks

The main “feature” of the attack, which is already being discussed in social networks and the media – it was carefully documented on the Internet. The terrorist attack in New Zealand was accompanied by a live broadcast, a manifesto, as well as a mention of memes and famous bloggers. And journalists assume that the shooters deliberately left a lot of references and “media pitfalls” to discuss even more.

Warnings, streams and manifest

So far, only one shooter’s identity is known – this is a 28-year-old Australian named Brenton Tarrant. And he did everything to ensure that his actions remained in the history of the Internet. Tarrant warned in advance about the 8chan imageboard attack. In the same place he left links to the stream on Facebook: the shooter put on a wearable camera, because of which the broadcast resembled a first-person shooter. During the 17-minute stream, the actions of the Australian were actively discussed at 8chan and Reddit, where the link also appeared.

But the main thing – Tarrant left a 73-page manifesto, where he told the original plan to attack three mosques, explained his motivation and named sources of inspiration. The document is still available.

Screenshot of the thread on 8chan with a warning of an attack on a mosque


Screenshot of Tarrant’s twitter account with links to the manifest and broadcast

All this happened on the air, and then sold in the form of copies of the video all over the Internet. Facebook, YouTube, VKontakte and other services stated that they are working on complete removal of the video. But, as noted by journalist Drew Harwell, for social networks this is already a belated reaction. For example, streaming more than an hour was discussed in the thematic section “watchpeopledie” on Reddit, and only then the thread was closed.

“Where were the vaunted Silicon Valley algorithms all 17 minutes of stream? Why AI and moderators of Facebook as much as 17 minutes, did not pay attention to this terrible broadcast? “- No matter edition News18. “Over the past 18 months, technology companies have promised many times to introduce new measures to prevent the distribution of violent content. But none of this worked, ” joined The New York Times.

“The slaughter in New Zealand was broadcast on Facebook, announced on 8chan, copied to YouTube, commented on Reddit and distributed around the world. And all this before technology companies could respond. ”

“YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are still unable to stop the distribution of video shooting. It disperses, reping, reload. None of the tools they own keep up with the spread. ”

Shortly after the attack, BuzzFeed journalist Ryan Mack checked the main social networks for videos of murders in mosques. At that time, he found dozens of videos on Twitter and copies of broadcasts on YouTube – before the latter, even though a warning appeared, it was possible to bypass it with one click. TJ also found several videos with murders in social networks.

Mack wondered how much time elapsed between the start of the stream on Facebook and the moment when Facebook warned the police. Representatives of the social network responded that they took action “soon after publication.”

“YouTube’s algorithms or moderators flagged copies of the stream as ‘sensitive’, but users can still see them.” Here is a stub before viewing. How does the broadcast of the massacre not violate the rules of service? “

Despite the best efforts of representatives of social networks, the recording of the broadcast will most likely not be able to be completely removed from the Internet. Therefore, users and the police of New Zealand switched to another tactic – they began to ask not to distribute the video so that the shooter would not receive attention.

“Police are aware that there are violent footage on the Internet related to the Christchurch incident. We urge you not to distribute links. We are working on the removal of all rollers »

“Do not spread the name of the shooter. Do not distribute this devilish video. Do not distribute this devilish manifesto. Mass killers want attention and fame. Deprive them of this. ”

“Do not call the name of the shooter. Do not publish videos. Do not share the manifesto “

“The terrorist attack in the era of SEO”

The Verge editor Elizabeth Lopatto in her article agreed that Tarrant desperately wanted attention. In her opinion, in general, all aspects of the attack on mosques were “produced” so that they were discussed on the Internet. The journalist called the incident “murder in the age of SEO”, hinting that the shooter had planned the attack as if by keywords from the search results.

This seems to be true: Tarrant “involved” in the Facebook attack (the company has been under criticism for the last year) and 8chan (the image board is called the Internet refuge of radical nationalists). He also left references to memes, the most popular game in the world Fortnite and the most popular YouTube-blogger PewDiePie.

The shooter utters the phrase “Subscribe to PewDiePie” – a phrase-meme from the confrontation of the blogger with the channel T-Series

Felix Chelberg (real name PewDiePie) had to publicly declare his condemnation of the terrorist act – by broadcast it might have seemed to someone that a blogger was a fan of a massacre.

“I just found out about the monstrous news from Christchurch in New Zealand. I feel sick that this person uttered my name. My heart and thoughts are now with the victims, families and all those who suffered from this tragedy. ”

Lopatto noted that in the manifesto Tarrant was engaged in frank “nejmropping” – he tried to mention as many names as possible so that people could get caught up with them. Journalists specializing in social networks, came to the conclusion that the shooter tried to confuse the “mainstream” media.

The manifesto is a trap for journalists who will search for the causes of the terrorist act there. There is truth there, but the valuable “keys” to the radicalization of the arrow are hidden behind the layers, you can’t find another word, “shitposting”.Robert Evansfrom the column for Bellingcat

Tarrant himself repeatedly stated in the manifesto that in some parts he was “joking” or “trolling.” But in social networks they decided to speak these moments once again, so that the attack would not be linked to bloggers or games.

“Superstranno how many memes this dude packed into one terrorist attack”

“Media: be neat with the New Zealand shooter manifest. There are a lot of irony and references that are very easily misinterpreted if you are not very deeply immersed in the topic (and even if deeply immersed) ”

“Seriously, this whole situation is a minefield. I know about the Internet, but I also cannot be 100% sure that all this is true, and that trolling / trick for the media. Be careful “

“I’m not sure if we will cover this, but the words of the arrow“ subscribe to PewDiePie ”in the shooting video are an attempt to attract the media and social networks. Do not get fooled

“For mainstream media: the attack has nothing to do with PewDiePie or games. The shooter said all this to write about the media, and he got attention. DO NOT LEAD »

But other users of social networks are already urging to take measures about the “radicalization of the Internet.”

“A shooter from New Zealand said” Sign up for PewDiePie “before opening fire. He joked about memes during the attack, published his arsenal on Twitter. Internet radicalization is real and needs to be taken seriously. ”

“The shooter actively used social networks during the shooting and broadcast the slaughterhouse. That is why white supremasism needs to be curbed in social networks. This is not free speech, this is real human life. ”

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