The live-streaming site Twitch is defending its actions after a user shared a video of the Halle synagogue shooting on the platform where it was viewed several thousand times.
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Two people were killed near a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Wednesday — which was also Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. The attack occurred around noon local time, and the suspect was arrested by police at around 3:30 p.m. The names of the victims were not released.
“We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected,” Twitch, a platform especially popular in the online gaming community, said in an initial statement on Wednesday.
“Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously,” the statement added. “We worked with urgency to remove this content and will permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act.”
Later in the day, in a series of tweets, Twitch shed light on its investigation into how a recording of this act of violence was spread online.
The account owner streamed the act live on Twitch for 35 minutes, and it was viewed by approximately five people during that time, the company said.
An automatically-generated recording of the stream, however, was up for 30 minutes and was viewed by approximately 2,200 people before it was removed by Twitch.
We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected.
— Twitch (@Twitch) October 9, 2019
Twitch said the account that posted the stream of the violence was created about two months ago and had only attempted to stream once before. They also say that the video was never featured in any recommendations or directories on the platform, saying, “our investigation suggests that people were coordinating and sharing the video via other online messaging services.”
The company added that after the video was removed from their platform, they shared the user’s profile with “an industry consortium to help prevent the proliferation of this content.”
“We take this extremely seriously and are committed to working with industry peers, law enforcement, and any relevant parties to protect our community,” the company added.
The incident is reminiscent of when an attacker live-streamed video of himself on Facebook as he went on a shooting rampage at a New Zealand mosque in March, sending the company and other social media platforms reeling as they tried to contain the spread of videos.
In the aftermath of the New Zealand incident that left 49 people dead, Facebook announced changes to prevent hate videos from spreading — including a one-strike policy that restricts users from live-streaming after their first offense.
More recently, Facebook announced it had re-trained its automatic detections system using firearm training video footage from U.S. and U.K. law enforcement to better spot content featuring first-person footage of violent events.