New Zealand massacre livestream tests governance of the internet

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses a briefing in Wellington, capital of New Zealand, on March 16, 2019. Xinhua/Guo Lei

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday that she would be looking for answers from social media including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter about how a terror attacker’s killings were livestreamed on their platforms. The outrage of the prime minister received sympathy from some mainstream Western media.

The suspect in the New Zealand mosque shootings posted photos of his weapons and manifesto online and seems to have recorded and livestreamed the attack through a helmet camera. Internet giants said they have been deleting the video of the bloody slaughter. Facebook said it removed 1.5 million videos in the first 24 hours after the attack. But people can still find them online. The deleting effort is obviously limited.

This is not the first time that killings have been livestreamed through social media. The incident is an opportunity for us to get to know better the global issues and challenges between development and government of the internet.

Social media is altering the way people interact. But while creating convenience, they have denoted problems one after another, which from time to time touched the bottom line of Western society’s endurance. Social media should shoulder more social responsibilities.

Maintaining social order as well as preventing social media from becoming a platform for disseminating harmful information are the main purposes of every country’s goal of strengthening social media supervision and regulation.

The internet has a much larger audience than traditional media. The difficulty and the cost of regulating the internet is much higher. The internet is open in nature and amplifies some of the darkest behavior of humanity. Regulation means guidance and restrictions, which in turn conflict with the nature of the internet.

How to regulate the internet? The entire world is at this stage of exploration. This could be a long-term process. Internet technologies are upgrading more quickly than regulation. The exploration will face hardship and will lag. We should face it.

What should we do with the internet? Undoubtedly, the world has no question about building an economic platform on it. But countries are not used to seeing the web play a political role.

The murderer in New Zealand openly published his hatred against Muslims, which triggered condemnation on social media from the New Zealand government. US President Donald Trump’s tendency to govern by tweet has also received quite a few criticisms in the US.

China is one of the countries that has made a firm resolution on internet governance in recent years. Generally speaking, no one knows what to do in this field. China’s method provides an approach. But be it firm or loose, opinions differ.

The internet has promoted economic and social development. Such a function must be ensured, its openness maintained. Meanwhile, chances should be reduced for the internet to stir up troubles for society or severely mislead social ideologies. Which country does a better job will be tested by its internet economy’s achievements and comprehensive fulfillment of the nation’s economic and social development.

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