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The broadcast of the Christchurch massacre potentially a criminal offence

The broadcast of the Christchurch massacre potentially a criminal offence

on
March 15th, 2019

The RCMP must immediately open an investigation to determine whether Facebook and YouTube committed a criminal offence by broadcasting the Christchurch massacre in Canada.

Toronto – FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, a watchdog group for Canadian journalism and storytelling, is calling upon the RCMP to immediately open an investigation to determine whether Facebook and YouTube committed a criminal offence by broadcasting the Christchurch massacre in Canada.

“Facebook and YouTube, as well as other social media platforms, broadcast a suspected hate crime without modification, to billions of people, including millions of Canadians”, says FRIENDS executive director, Daniel Bernhard.

“It’s not OK to broadcast a hate crime in Canada. By amplifying this massacre and promoting it to Canadians without context, YouTube, Facebook, and other social media companies may have committed crimes of their own. The RCMP must launch an investigation at once.”

Section 319(2) of the Criminal Code states that “Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, willfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.” The statute explicitly includes broadcasting in the definition of the term, “communicating”.

Facebook has long maintained that it is simply a neutral platform for user-generated content, not a publisher making editorial choices, and should therefore bear no liability for the content it disseminates. FRIENDS, and many others, believe that Facebook’s algorithm performs a deliberate curatorial function, which includes the decision of how forcefully to amplify certain content.

“YouTube is a broadcaster under Canadian law, even if the CRTC exempts it from licensing,” said Bernhard. “Facebook is also a broadcaster, and a publisher too. The federal government must take urgent action to hold them legally responsible when they disseminate illegal content of any kind. We cannot wait until 2021 for a new Broadcasting Act: the government must step in now.”

In addition to a criminal investigation, FRIENDS is calling on the CRTC to investigate whether broadcasting the Christchurch massacre violates broadcasting regulations. They are also calling on Facebook and YouTube to refund all advertisers whose brands may have been undermined by association with video of this atrocity.

FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting works to keep Canada’s voice strong and free on air and online. FRIENDS is not affiliated with any broadcaster or political party.

For more information: Jim Thompson – [email protected] or 613-447-9592

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