Tom Watson: Social Media Platforms Have Failed The Victims Of The New Zealand Atrocity

15 March 2019, 19:42 | Updated: 16 March 2019, 12:21

Tom Watson hits out at social media platforms for 'failing the victims' of the New Zealand attack, saying it is now time for good people to take back control from the "wicked ignorant oligarchs of Silicon Valley".

The Deputy Labour Leader and Shadow Culture Secretary made an emotive call for "good people" to take control away from the "wicked ignorant oligarchs of Silicon Valley" after 49 people were killed in at a mosque in New Zealand.

Victims were in the middle of prayers when a masked gunman opened fire on Muslims in Christchurch in an attack that was live-streamed on social media.

Speaking on LBC, Tom Watson said that social media platforms had "failed the victims" and "failed in the face of evil".

"Imagine you're a clever college kid with a great idea to bring students together on a digital platform that allows them to get to know each other.

"You call it Facebook, and 15 years later, you've conquered the world, you're a billionaire oligarch, you're the master of everything you survey.

"But you wake up to see a crazed right-wing terrorist massacre innocents worshiping in a mosque and they live-stream it on your digital platform.

"Imagine that's you, you'd wake up and feel utter shame.

"But they've woken up rich and in my view thinking that they're totally unaccountable."

Tom Watson in the LBC studio
Tom Watson in the LBC studio. Picture: LBC

The deputy leader continued: "How has it come to this.

"We've heard a lot lately about taking back control, well today the big social media platforms lost control.

"They failed the victims of that terrorist atrocity, they failed in the face of evil, they failed to show any decency and responsibility.

"And we can't go on like this.

"Today must be the day when good people commit to take back control from the wicked ignorant oligarchs of Silicon Valley."

In response to the incident, a spokesperson for Facebook said that the platform is working to remove "any praise or support" for the attack.

Mia Garlick from Facebook New Zealand said: "Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this horrendous act.

"New Zealand 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.

"We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues."