French Muslim Group Sues Facebook and YouTube over Christchurch Livestreams

March 25, 2019, 5:10 PM UTC

The French Council of the Muslim Faith said Monday it is suing Facebook and YouTube for allowing the livestream of the Christchurch massacre on their platforms earlier this month, Reuters reports.

The council represents millions of Muslims in France. The group said it’s suing the French branches of both social networking sites for “broadcasting a message with violent content abetting terrorism, or of a nature likely to seriously violate human dignity and liable to be seen by a minor,” according to court documents.

In France, the punishment for such acts can amount to three years in prison and nearly $85,000 in fines, according to The Guardian.

A Facebook vice president said the original footage was viewed at least 4,000 times before Facebook could remove it, according to NPR. However, copies of the video were quickly reproduced and shared across social media platforms, leading to countless more views of the March 15 violent attack on worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she spoke with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to make sure the video was scrubbed from the platform. In the days following the white nationalist attack, multiple major companies in New Zealand said they would pull their advertising from Facebook.

According to the council’s court filing, Facebook did not remove the video broadcast until 29 minutes after it started.

Facebook acknowledged this in a blog post. “The first user report on the original video came in 29 minutes after the video started, and 12 minutes after the live broadcast ended,” said Facebook’s deputy general counsel, Chris Sonderby.

Both Facebook and YouTube have faced criticism over the footage, and for failing to crack down on white supremacist content.