No victim should have their final moments uploaded to social media.

Over the weekend, a horrific act of violence occurred.

Within 30 minutes of the Bondi Junction Westfield attacks taking place, there were dozens of videos being disseminated across social media.

Some videos were worthy of headlines, coverage and analysis. Many traced the movements and actions of the knifeman, and will likely now help police with their investigation.

Then there were the other videos. The ones that were nothing but vulgar and snuff-like — zooming in on the victims as they lay dying, stripping them of their dignity. 

When in a terrifying situation, watching someone in their final moments, why is it some people's first instinct to get their phone out? Further than that, why do they think it's okay to then post their photos and videos online?

They might claim they were spreading awareness or sharing "news". But that's not the truth. Some of the content shared online depicted unadulterated horror.

Watch: Tributes for victims of Bondi Junction Westfield attack. Post continues below. 

Video via 9News.

We acknowledge social media's power and positive influence, but as terror and violence unfolds in real time, these platforms can quickly become an untamed beast. 

This became abundantly clear again on Monday night, following the attack at a church in Sydney's south-west.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was preaching to his congregation, his sermon being broadcast via a livestream on the church's Facebook and YouTube channels, when he was brutally stabbed along with four other worshippers, just two days after the horror that unfolded in Bondi. 

There is a high chance the alleged attacker - a 16-year-old who is now in custody - knew he'd have a live audience. The video of this event, which is being investigated as terrorism, remains available to see online, days later. 

And this phenomenon isn't new.

In 2019, a white supremacist walked into a Christchurch mosque, murdering 51 people and attempting to murder another 40.

The terrorist livestreamed the massacre on Facebook. The 17-minute video of the attack was ruled by the New Zealand Chief Censor to be objectionable and unlawful to possess or distribute - but for many who came across it unwittingly before this decision was made, the damage was already done. 

Several individuals have since been prosecuted for distributing the livestream of the attack or having possession of the attacker's manifesto — but the video still exists in the dark corners of the Internet.


Social media companies still rely heavily on users to report objectionable content, but also claim that their automated systems enable the removal of millions of terrorism-related content. 

But as soon as something has been uploaded online, it's improbable it will be completely expunged - and it's the loved ones of the victims who are impacted the most. 

There's nuance to this conversation of course.

At the weekend, social media showed us the bravery of certain figures like Damien Guerot, quickly dubbed 'Bollard Man', who selflessly put his life on the line to fend off the knifeman with the use of a bollard.

Real time footage also showed us just how quick-thinking and courageous female police officer Inspector Amy Scott was in the face of danger.

CCTV footage shared online even helped the attacker's family identify their son and contact police with their concerns. 

But there is so much we didn't need to witness. We certainly didn't need to see the victims bleeding on the shopping centre floor, suffering in their final moments. 

We shouldn't know what clothes these victims were wearing, what shopfront they were killed in front of, nor should we have seen visions of CPR being performed. 


As the tragic events unfolded at Bondi Junction Westfield, it's likely many worried family members and friends turned first to social media in an attempt to find out what was going on. 

There is also every chance that from X (Twitter), TikTok or Facebook videos, they ended up recognising their loved one lying lifeless or severely injured on the shopping centre floor. All because someone had decided it was appropriate to hit record and film the bodies they saw — and even more macabre — publish these videos online for the world to see. 

In the face of violence and terror, many of us reach for our phones. It's become human instinct to film everything that happens around us, even in times of sheer panic. It makes sense in some instances — capturing what exactly is going on can help investigators and police piece together a clearer picture.

But our phones are capturing some of the most horrific things we can imagine. All recorded and shared in real time, without a second thought.

I don't lay blame or anger upon those who reached for their phones while caught up in the Bondi Junction Westfield attack. It wouldn't be fair, as I wasn't there that day. 

But where so many have f**ked up is in what they did next. Zooming in, uploading, sharing what they saw online. That speaks volumes.

Feature Image: Getty.