Homeland Security chairman requests briefing from tech companies after spread of New Zealand footage

Homeland Security chairman requests briefing from tech companies after spread of New Zealand footage
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The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is requesting that tech companies brief Congress on their efforts to crack down on violent extremists following the livestreaming of last week’s massacre in New Zealand.

Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonDe Blasio vows to take Trump to court over sanctuary city proposal The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday Dems rally behind Omar as Trump escalates attacks MORE (D-Miss.) sent letters to the chief executives of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft saying that he was “deeply concerned” that the suspected attacker was able to livestream his killing spree on Facebook and that other companies struggled to suppress the footage in the hours that followed.

“You must do better. It is clear from the recent pattern of horrific mass violence and thwarted attempts at mass violence — here and abroad — that this is not merely an American issue but a global one. Your companies must prioritize responding to these toxic and violent ideologies with resources and attention,” Thompson wrote.

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“If you are unwilling to do so, Congress must consider policies to ensure that terrorist content is not distributed on your platforms — including by studying the examples being set by other countries,” he added.

Thompson asked the companies to brief lawmakers on the Homeland Security Committee on March 27.

A spokesman for Facebook confirmed that it would conduct a briefing soon but didn’t specify when.

A YouTube spokesperson said in a statement that the site went to great lengths to stop the spread of the footage.

“Since Friday’s horrific tragedy, we’ve removed tens of thousands of videos and terminated hundreds of accounts created to promote or glorify the shooter. The volume of related videos uploaded to YouTube in the 24 hours after the attack was unprecedented both in scale and speed, at times as fast as a new upload every second,” the spokesperson said in the statement. “Our teams are continuing to work around the clock to prevent violent and graphic content from spreading, we know there is much more work to do.”

The spokesperson did not respond when asked about Thompson’s request for a briefing.

Microsoft and Twitter did not immediately respond when asked about the letter.