COMMENT

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was resistant to adding a delay to Facebook Live - a pretty mild measure - during his first interview since the Christchurch shootings, broadcast Friday NZT, let alone suspending or abandoning the service.

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Multiple copies of alleged Christchurch mosque gunman's video still on Facebook

"It would also fundamentally break what livestreaming is for people. Most people are livestreaming, you know, a birthday party or hanging out with friends when they can't be together. And it's one of the things that's magical about livestreaming is that it's bi-directional, right? So you're not just broadcasting. You're communicating. And people are commenting back. So if you had a delay that would break that."

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But what Zuckerberg is describing is video chat.

And anyone with even a passing degree of familiarity with tech these days knows you can video chat to a set group of family or friends to share a birthday moment or similar with friends and family afar in a two-way experience. It doesn't need to be broadcast to all-comers a la Facebook Live.

So I'm struggling to see why the Facebook CEO won't make any concession on his company's livestream service.

In his ABC News interview, he breezily conceded that it's difficult for Facebook's AI (artificial intelligence) systems to identify terror activity on Facebook Live. If that's the case, then surely a brief delay would help.

Why won't Zuckerberg give an inch?

Possibly, like the NRA in the world of guns, he fears that any concession will prove to be the thin end of the wedge.

Meanwhile, the horror of March 15 continues to reverberate through Facebook.

On Friday morning, New York-based extremist content researcher Eric Feinberg told the Herald he had located 12 copies of the alleged gunman's video - seven on Facebook and five on the Facebook-owned Instagram.

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A spokesman for Facebook acknowledged the existence of the copies, but said they had been taken down in the hours since Feinberg flagged them. Feinberg immediately found another copy. It goes on.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during his interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. Photo / Getty.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during his interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. Photo / Getty.

Facebook says it continues comprehensive efforts to stamp out copies of the Christchurch clip, and that it is strengthing its technology and human moderator systems all the time.

But the frustration for New Zealand regulators, like Privacy Commissioner John Edwards, has been that Facebook has made no changes to its user policies around livestreaming.

In an open letter last week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the social network was "exploring" the possibility of restricting access to Facebook Live for some users.

Edwards followed up by asking if any safeguards had been put in place since March 15 that would prevent a repeat of the horrific livestream.

The unsatisfying answer: "No."

Before his ABC News interview, Zuckerberg wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he said Facebook would welcome rules and sanctions imposed by governments.

The Facebook boss called for a "global framework," perhaps cogniscent of the fact in the real-world, it would take years for disparate countries to agree on common rules - if it ever happened at all.

He also went out of his way to praise tough new privacy rules in Europe under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, (GDPR).

Yet as the GDPR came into force in May last year, Facebook quietly changed its terms of services to move its New Zealand users from under Irish privacy law (that is, under the new EU rules) to lighter US privacy law.

Edwards said the social network shouldn't get to pick and choose.

Facebook's NZ operation should fall under NZ law.

"I remain of the view, based on expert advice on how private international law works, that Facebook is subject to New Zealand law in relation to the collection, use, storage, access and disclosure of personal information," he said.

Across the Tasman, a tough new law was introduced last week which will see social media companies fined up to 10 per cent of their revenue and their executives jailed for up to three years if they fail to remove "abhorrent violent material expeditiously."

"There are platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook who do not seem to take their responsibility to not show the most abhorrently violent material seriously," Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter said as the legislation was passed.

The Aussie clampdown has been criticised as too rushed and too vague (it fails to define "expeditious", for example) and drawn flak from civil liberties campaigners including NZ's Thomas Beagle.

But at least it will focus the minds of Zuckerberg and co. Here, our government has gone hard on gun control, but curiously soft on social media.

For now, Facebook's business model - which relies on speed and volume of user-content, by one Washington Post writer's analysis - remains undisturbed.