Two weeks after a terrorist used Facebook to broadcast live video while massacring 50 Muslim worshipers in New Zealand, the company broke the silence in the country by publishing a letter from Sheryl Sandberg in the New Zealand Herald.
Sandberg, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer, said the company is "exploring" restrictions on who can stream streaming videos to Facebook, but has not announced any policy changes.
"All of us on Facebook are with the victims, their families, the Muslim community and all of New Zealand," he wrote. "Many of you have also rightly questioned how online platforms such as Facebook were used to spread horrible attack videos … We've heard the feedback we need to do more – and we're in agreement."
The letter follows weeks of constant criticism in New Zealand about the lack of responsiveness of Facebook executives towards the grieving nation.
"It would be very difficult for you and your colleagues to overestimate the growing frustration and anger here at the facilitation and Facebook's inability to mitigate the deep and profound pain and damage of the live massacre of our colleagues, family members and compatriots broadcast your network, "said privacy commissioner John Edwards in a letter to Facebook executives after the massacre, according to the Herald.
"Your silence is an insult to our pain."
A column of opinion Herald published on March 21 challenged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to "explain how his company will prevent its platform from being abused in the future, or to face the families of the victims and explain why not ".
"If it had happened in America, Zuckerberg would have spoken," continued the business writer Chris Keall. "Why is New Zealand different?"
Zuckerberg has not yet publicly commented on the attack, nor the role of Facebook in amplifying the scope of the act of terror.
The potential restrictions on live streaming would be based on "factors such as violations of previous EU standards," Sandberg wrote. A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the Christchurch shooter would be excluded from the live streaming if such a policy had been in place, citing a request from the New Zealand police "not to go into specifics" while investigations continue.
Facebook is also "investing in research to build better technology to quickly identify modified versions of violent videos and images and prevent people from re-porting these versions," Sandberg wrote.
The company is also repressing hate groups in Australia and New Zealand, committed to supporting four Kiwi mental health organizations, and has expressed support for the recently announced royal commission that will investigate the circumstances surrounding the attack.
Sandberg also promoted Facebook's decision earlier this week to reverse its previous policy and ban content that supports white nationalism and white separatism. The company had previously made a distinction between the white supremacy, which prohibited, and white nationalism, which allowed, despite the consensus of experts, that this distinction was merely rhetorical.
Sandberg's letter was also published on the Instagram blog, and a company spokeswoman said that all Facebook and Instagram users in New Zealand will receive a platform warning with a link to the op-ned.