Back in March 2019, an atrocity against humanity was committed by a white supremacist Brenton Tarrant (whom I’ll refer to as a terrorist throughout this post) who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The latest is that the perpetrator of the terrorist act was said to have been radicalized via YouTube based on a 792-page report on the March 2019 shooting.
“What particularly stood out was the statement that the terrorist made that he was ‘not a frequent commentator on extreme right-wing sites and YouTube was a significant source of information and inspiration’,” said Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, according to The Guardian. “This is a point I plan to make directly to the leadership of YouTube.”
Meanwhile the giant video sharing platform has been linked with different radicalization and white supremacist content in the past and the argument as to whether the company’s algorithm pushes people toward more extreme views as time gets by or not.
There are some researchers who also believed that the combination of a business model which rewards extreme content can get viewers hooked up and get radicalized but this isn’t a global conclusion.
The Christchurch terrorist was said to have sent an email to the Parliament, the Prime Minister’s office and news outlets about 8 minutes before carrying out the act and his manifesto is said to have been attached to the email.
Also, the terrorist even posted his manifesto to 8Chan which is a message board that’s said to be used mostly by far-right users as well as a link to a Facebook page where the attack would be livestreamed. The video and page was removed by Facebook.
THE SHOOTER ALSO MODIFIED HIS FIREARMS BEFORE THE ATTACKS USING YOUTUBE TUTORIALS
The 17-minute video of the terrorist act was uploaded to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter and the manifesto were mirrored worldwide which was then reuploaded to platforms repeatedly over the next following days.
Based on the report, the terrorist was said to have frequented numerous far-right message boards on 4chan and 8chan with evidence showing a more substantial use of YouTube. His firearm modification was even said to have been learnt based on tutorials on YouTube.
He further used his Facebook account to discuss Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf a terrible book from a horrible author which was part of his propaganda that could draw in new extremists in a group called The Lads Society Season Two where he often post Islamophobic contents says the report.
While I wouldn’t personally hold YouTube or any large social networking service responsible directly for the deeds of evil doers considering the humongous number of userbase they have, the obvious truth is that these companies needs to do more and make their platform safer for human across the world to relate safely.