Netflix adds warning to The Social Dilemma documentary after complaint about Christchurch terror attacks clip
The Social Dilemma is now streaming on Netflix.
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A new documentary that shows a clip from the banned livestream of the Christchurch terror attacks is available to stream in New Zealand, though a warning has been added and the film’s age rating increased.
New Zealand’s chief censor David Shanks said he received a viewer complaint about The Social Dilemma last week.
“A member of the public was very concerned to see that this documentary contained excerpts from the livestream video, which was broadcast to Facebook by the March 15 terrorist.”
The 17-minute long video of the attacks was widely shared on social media in the hours after 91 people were killed or injured in the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre on March 15, 2019.
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Shanks ruled the video as objectionable, making it a criminal offence distribute, copy or exhibit the footage, with corporations found to be in violation liable for fines of up to $100,000.
“Every New Zealander should now be clear that this clip is an illegal, harmful and reprehensible record created to promote a terrorist cause,” he said at the time. “If you have a record of it, you must delete it. If you see it, you should report it. Possessing or distributing it is illegal, and only supports a criminal agenda.”
However, “classification of the livestream in its entirety did not mean that every excerpt from the livestream was also unlawful, although we urged media to demonstrate extreme care and good judgement in the treatment of any such material.”
The clip of the Christchurch attacks comes just over five minutes into The Social Dilemma and lasts for a few seconds.
It shows the terrorist displaying his weapon and walking up to the front doors of the mosque, though the end of the gun is blurred.
“I watched [The] Social Dilemma documentary and thought it had merit, but was concerned that we currently have a particularly vulnerable population in relation to this category of material,” said Shanks. “Survivors and relatives of those who were subject to the attack have only recently worked through the sentencing process.”
Shanks said he gave Netflix the option of either removing the clip, or increasing the rating for New Zealand from 7+ to 13+ and adding a content warning added for “Violence, including brief images from the Christchurch terror attacks, suicide references and content that may disturb”.
Netflix had taken the latter option, with these changes relevant only to New Zealand.
In other countries the film carries a rating of between 7 and PG-13. It would be at their censors’ discretion to add a content warning.
“I appreciate Netflix making this change for us,” Shanks said.
He added: ”Given the horrific circumstances of this attack, and the deliberate strategy of using a livestream to disseminate a terrorist message, we urge news media to carefully consider the impact of sharing, broadcasting or publishing any part of this video.
“It is up to news organisations to make ethical judgements about what images they broadcast and print.”
Netflix describes The Social Dilemma as a “documentary-drama hybrid [that] explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.”
Released last Wednesday, it has an 87 per cent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the critical consensus reading: “Clear-eyed and comprehensive, The Social Dilemma presents a sobering analysis of our data-minded present.”