Netflix praised for use of mosque attack footage

Netflix praised for use of mosque attack footage

Netflix, praised for use of mosque attack footage, gets away with what others are jailed for.

An increased age rating and a warning have been placed on a new Netflix documentary showing brief clips of the Christchurch mosque terror attacks.

The gunman who was sentenced to life in prison without parole last month livestreamed the shootings on Facebook using a camera on his helmet, in footage seen around the world.

The documentary, The Social Media Dilemma, started screening in this country late last week with no warning and a seven years-plus rating.

It very quickly drew a complaint to the office of the chief censor, David Shanks.

A member of the public was concerned to see it contained excerpts from the livestream video, the censor’s office said in a statement.

Shanks told RNZ that although shortly after last year’s attack he classified the livestream as an unlawful (objectionable) publication for its promotion of terrorism and extreme violence, “that did not mean that every excerpt or every still from the livestream was also an unlawful publication in its own right but we urged media at that time to demonstrate extreme care and good judgement in the treatment of any material or any image from that livestream”.

He said that the scene of the gunman approaching the front door of Al Noor Mosque and another shot showing some of his guns feature for only a couple of seconds as part of a montage of various historic events that have screened on social media or on the internet.

The documentary addresses issues that had begun emerging around social media business models and the use of algorithms to detect aggression and then send people biased news feeds, Shanks said. He regarded some of the messages in the documentary as important for teenagers to view.

However, the age rating of seven was “inadequate”. In addition, he told Netflix that there were vulnerable people in the country who have lost relatives in the attack and may have also viewed the livestream at the time of the attack. Survivors and relatives of those who have died have only recently worked through the sentencing process, Shanks said.

He suggested Netflix raise the age guidance to 13 and include a warning saying it contained scenes from the shootings, suicide references and other content that could disturb.

He is happy that has now happened and said the film would make a positive contribution to the debate around social media.

Shanks said he had asked for the mosque scenes to be removed but Netflix declined to do this, however, he was pleased with their quick response.

“A recent law change means that in future Netflix, and other commercial video on demand content, will be covered by New Zealand ratings and information but until that comes into effect it’s goodwill like this that enables New Zealanders to get appropriate warnings.”

Censor praises Netflix for response to use of mosque attack footage