Gun law reform submissions livestreamed on Facebook

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
Facebook, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has sternly criticised for tardiness in removing livestreamed footage of the Christchurch terror attack, was used this week to livestream public submissions on new firearms laws.

Parliament has greatly increased its use of social media platforms in recent months, meaning proceedings such as select committee hearings can now be seen by the public.

That coverage is supervised by the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, which authorised livestreaming of select committees on Facebook a year ago.

"We have used Facebook for livestreaming since April 2018 because it is a popular and widely used platform," Clerk David Wilson said.

"It's one of a number of social media platforms the Office of the Clerk uses to help connect New Zealanders with Parliament.

"Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Vimeo and YouTube are also used to make Parliament accessible and to provide channels for the public to be involved with Parliament."

Firearms law changes prompted by the Christchurch terror attack have been considered by the finance and expenditure select committee this week.

The livestreaming of the proceedings outraged one Otago Daily Times reader, who said: "This is absolutely disgraceful - Facebook Live is how the gunman streamed his killings and we have been lectured about the evils of social media and now they are streaming this themselves on Facebook."

Following the Christchurch attacks Ms Ardern called on all social media platforms to demonstrate responsibility over posts containing hate speech, and specifically posts which carried the footage livestreamed on Facebook by the alleged gunman.

Mr Wilson said the Office of the Clerk was politically neutral and independent of the government, MPs' offices and political parties.

"We provide secretariat services to the House of Representatives and its select committees, and Facebook is one of the tools we use to help New Zealanders engage with Parliament's proceedings.

"The political opinions and stances of individual MPs do not affect our work."

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