Social media companies powerless to remove dozens of Christchurch mosque attack videos still online - expert

An expert in finding extremist content says there are still multiple videos of the Christchurch mosque attack online and there is nothing social media companies can do about it.  

Eric Feinberg, vice-president for Coalition for A Safer Web, told AM on Thursday more than three years after Brenton Tarrant, a white supremacist, opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch there are about a dozen videos of the attack still on Facebook and Instagram. 

"The only reason why the majority of them came down is for third party NGO's (non-Government organisations) like ours, sharing them with the press, who then went to Facebook to take them down," Feinberg told AM host Ryan Bridge. 

Feinberg said the problem in the US is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that prevents any provider from being held responsible for something a third party posts on their platform.

He said there is nothing social media companies can do to stop extremist videos from being posted on their website. 

"No they can't because I am actually doing testing with them right now and with the millions and billions of dollars that they have at their disposal, my small group is finding and sending to them radicalised content that we pick up that they are unable to pick up," he said.

"Until they embrace third-party flaggers or audits like ourselves, and hopefully they are listening to what we are sharing with them because they are not astute to anticipate this nefarious content."

Feinberg said the only way social media companies have a chance at stopping these radicalised videos from being posted is by anticipating them.   

"There is a certain profile or characteristic that this nefarious content has and if you understand the characteristics, tells or the code used by this, you can anticipate and actually block or sandbox this before it gets online," he explains. 

"[You can predict] because of certain words, in the sense of QAnon, they have certain codes or key hashtags they use combined with known QAnon hashtags, you pick it up and you see based on what it is that its QAnon."

Coroner Brigitte Windley has revealed the focus of her coronial investigation into the attack.

In a decision released on Thursday morning, Windley said the investigation will explore the emergency response to March 15, the cause of each person's death, how Tarrant obtaining a firearms license caused the deaths of 51 people, whether Tarrant was radicalised by his online activity and "the line of defence that wider community may provide as one means of future prevention".

The hearing will be held in Christchurch at a yet-to-be-decided date.