How Tech Giants Gave the Christchurch Mosque Shooter Even More Firepower

The attacker turned super-violent into super-viral, converting social platforms into unwitting allies.

A mourner prays near the Linwood mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, earlier this week.Mark Baker/AP

Last Friday, a gunman murdered at least 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. While the terrorist’s exact path to radicalization is still unknown, one thing has become increasingly clear: This was an attack inspired by the internet and crafted for the internet, representing a new level of super-viral violence.

On this week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, we explore how the Christchurch shooter exploited unwitting allies in the form of giant tech companies, which have proven themselves unable or unwilling to stop the spread of hate speech on their platforms. In doing so, the 28-year-old Australian suspect, steeped in far-right hate found in the darkest corners of the internet, instantly turned some of America’s most profitable and influential companies into distributors of a lurid white nationalist recruitment video. Over the weekend, YouTube said it wiped an “unprecedented volume” of video uploads. Facebook announced it removed nearly 1.5 million videos of the attack. Meanwhile, tech titans have been summoned to Capitol Hill by the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), to explain their response to the shooting.

The shooter essentially issued “a press kit for this type of information to get out,” says Mother Jones reporter Ali Breland, who joined fellow reporter Pema Levy in our Washington, DC, studio for the podcast. “Then [he] gave people following him a way to very clearly find his ideology.”

Also on the show, our national affairs editor, Mark Follman, describes how the rise of a global white supremacist movement combined with the rise of Trumpism to create a highly combustible fuel for this kind of extreme violence.

Listen to the show, and check out our Mother Jones reading list of Christchurch coverage, and our reporting into the rise of white supremacy in the age of Trump, below.


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.