Twitch Says 2,200 Users Viewed Video Of Shooting Outside German Synagogue Before It Was Removed

Topline: The gunman who opened fire Wednesday near a synagogue in eastern Germany live-streamed the shooting on video game streaming service Twitch, the company said, and it was viewed by 2,200 people before it was taken down 30 minutes later.

  • The shooter streamed the attack on Twitch for 35 minutes. The Amazon-owned service removed it 30 minutes later. 
  • In the video, the shooter denied the Holocaust happened and referred to himself as “Anon,” a name adopted by those who frequent 4Chan and 8Chan. He later decried feminism, immigration and the existence of Jewish people in the video, NBC News reported, before carrying out the attack, which killed two and injured two more on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
  • Twitch said the original video was viewed by five people as it was streamed live. Some 2,200 Twitch users watched a recording of the automatically generated live stream after the fact. 
  • The platform, which has 15 million visitors daily, said the video did not surface in any Twitch recommendations or directories, but people on other online messaging platforms were coordinating with each other to share the video before it was taken down. 
  • It spread to other platforms with lax moderation policies frequented by white supremacists, including Telegram and 4Chan, according to CNBC.
  • A hash, or a digital footprint, of the video was given to the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism—a consortium founded by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube—to stem the spread of extremist content.

A Twitch spokesperson said in a statement that the company has a “zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct.”

“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,” the tweet continued.

News peg: The gunman attempted to enter a synagogue in Halle, a city in eastern part of Germany, where at least 50 people were present during services Wednesday for Yom Kippur.

When the shooter couldn’t enter the synagogue, he opened fire at a woman passing by outside and then in a nearby Kebab shop, killing two and wounding two others. No one inside the synagogue was hurt.

Key background: The shooting is similar to the attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, where the gunman who killed 51 people at a pair of mosques in the city filmed the massacre on Facebook Live. In that case, the video spread beyond Facebook to mainstream websites such as YouTube and Reddit.

Facebook eventually changed its policy to ban users who break serious policies from Facebook Live immediately.