The New Zealand prime minister said the suspected gunman in the mosque shootings had sent an anti-immigrant manifesto to her office minutes before the attack.
Jacinda Ardern, who met with some of the victims’ relatives on Sunday, said her office had gotten the email about nine minutes before Friday’s attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, although she added she hadn’t gotten the email directly herself.
Her office was one of about 30 recipients and forwarded the email to parliamentary security within a couple of minutes of receiving it, she said. The email did not include any location or specific details.
The suspect in the shootings, 28-year-old white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, appeared in court on Saturday charged with one murder.
The Australian national, who was handcuffed and wearing all-white prison garb, showed no emotion during the brief hearing.
The gunman used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast 17 minutes of live video of the rampage at the al Noor mosque in Christchurch. Another attack on the Linwood Islamic Centre followed.
Fifty people were killed and dozens were injured, in the deadliest shooting in the country’s history.
The footage was broadcast live on Facebook, and the gunman’s 74-page manifesto denouncing immigrants as “invaders” was also posted online via links to related social media accounts.
Ms Ardern has said she will be holding discussions with Facebook.
Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video. We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware.
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) 15 March 2019
Facebook said on Twitter that “police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the live-stream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video”.
It said it had removed 1.5 million videos of the attack in the first 24 hours of the slaughter.
But the issue has raised new questions about violence being disseminated on social media platforms.
Ms Ardern told a news conference on Sunday she had been contacted by Facebook’s operations chief, Sheryl Sandberg, who shared condolences over the shootings.
“Certainly, I have had contact from Sheryl Sandberg. I haven’t spoken to her directly but she has reached out, an acknowledgement of what has occurred here in New Zealand,” Ms Ardern said when asked if Facebook should stop live-streaming.
“This is an issue that I will look to be discussing directly with Facebook,” she added.
In the first 24 hours we removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally, of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload…
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) 17 March 2019
Mia Garlick, of Facebook New Zealand, said: “We continue to work around the clock to remove violating content using a combination of technology and people.
“Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities, we’re also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content.”