Amazon-owned Twitch ‘shocked and saddened’ after synagogue shooting streams on its platform

(GeekWire Photo)

Amazon-owned Twitch ‘shocked and saddened’ after synagogue shooting streams on its platform – A shooting at a synagogue in Germany that resulted in the deaths of two people was live-streamed on Amazon’s Twitch, underscoring issues streaming platforms face in regulating what people broadcast.

The 35-minute video of the shooting was removed by Twitch after it happened, CNBC reports. The Verge notes the video shows a man shooting two people and trying unsuccessfully to break into a synagogue. He also talks to the camera, denying that the Holocaust occurred and railing against Jewish people.

The shooting occurred during Yom Kippur, considered the most important Jewish holiday.

Twitch issued the following statement on the matter:

“We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected. Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously. We worked with urgency to remove this content and will permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act.”

UPDATE: Twitch offered more explanation on its actions to take down the video on Twitter:

Jay Carney, head of Amazon’s global public policy team, addressed the attack this week at the GeekWire Summit.

“What happened today is horrendous and I know that Twitch has either taken it all down or is actively working on that now,” Carney said. “Any customer that has posted or reposted any of that stuff is off for good.”

The actions of the shooter today echo an attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand earlier this year that was streamed on Facebook Live. Following the attack, Amazon signed on to a pledge with other tech and social media giants to fight the violent extremism that has found a voice on their platforms.

Amazon was an important partner in the alliance, even though its Christchurch services weren’t used in the attack, Microsoft President Brad Smith said at the 2019 GeekWire Summit this week. Some organizations balked at signing on to the pledge because they weren’t directly involved, but Amazon wasn’t one of them.

“It’s not like AWS was used for this, and it’s not like Twitch was either,” Smith said earlier this week. “They got involved and they said even though this wasn’t our problem we will contribute to the solution.”

Here’s what Amazon and others committed to in the alliance known as the “Christchurch Call.”

  • Update terms of use to specifically forbid terrorist and violent extremist content
  • Create a ‘violent extremist and terrorist content’ category users can select when flagging inappropriate content. That category will be prioritized by moderators.
  • Invest in technologies that detect this type of content including “digital fingerprinting and AI-based technology solutions”
  • Explore ways to better police livestreaming.
  • Regularly publish reports on terrorist and violent extremist content detected on their platforms.

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