The Australian white nationalist who killed 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was indoctrinated by YouTube, according to a 792-page report on the March 2019 shooting.
“What was especially striking was the statement that the terrorist claimed that he was not a frequent commentator on extreme-right sites and that YouTube was the main source of information and encouragement,'” the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, The Guardian. “This is a point that I plan to make explicitly to the leadership of YouTube.”
It’s not the first time YouTube has been linked to religious extremism and white nationalist videos. There has been endless debate as to whether the YouTube algorithm is driving people towards more radical views over time. While this is not a universal inference, some analysts claim that the combination of a business model that rewards edgy content and a customized algorithm designed to keep audiences hooked is a formula for radicalization.
YouTube quotes are part of a wider investigation into a hate crime to see how it could have been stopped. The gunman sent an email to Parliament, the Prime Minister’s office, and news media eight minutes before the attack started, according to the article. His manifesto was linked to his email address. The police were not the only ones warned by the gunman. His manifesto was also published to 8chan, a forum that often hosts far-right material; included in the post was a link to the Facebook page, where the poster claimed that a live broadcast of the attack would be broadcast. A 17-minute video showing the shooting was posted to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.
The video and manifesto were replicated globally and re-uploaded to the platforms regularly over the next few days, much quicker than the platforms could take them down.
The study goes on to say that while the gunman used far-right message boards on 4chan and 8chan, the evidence suggests a more extensive usage of YouTube. Before the attacks, the gunman also changed his weapons using YouTube tutorials.
The gunman also used his Facebook account to address Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf, in particular the propaganda sections that could be used by new radicals in a group called The Lads Society Season Two. He also used islamophobia rhetoric in the community, the report said.