Social networks including Twitter and YouTube are scrambling to stop people sharing an “extremely distressing” video that appears to depict the New Zealand terror attack.

The footage is still appearing on the world’s biggest social networks, and will have been seen by large numbers of people, as it is being uploaded and shared as quickly as it can be identified and removed by moderators.

Video showing the killing is in contravention of the social networks’ policies and they have committed to remove any footage that contravenes those rules.  Facebook, for instance, said that it was not only removing any video but also posts that indicate “praise” for the attack.

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But the companies can only do so by identifying them – which is done both automatically but also by an array of paid moderators – which means that they can sometimes stay up for hours.

On YouTube, the video is being repeatedly uploaded, despite the fact they are being taken down quickly. The company said it will remove them as quickly as they are found, though numerous commenters pointed out that the videos were relatively easy to discover.

“Our hearts are broken over today’s terrible tragedy in New Zealand,” YouTube tweeted. ”Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage.”

Authorities asked the public to neither search out or share the videos as they appear.

“Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online,” New Zealand police said in a tweet. “We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed.”

Despite those pleas, they continue to be readily available across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites.

For instance, video was available on a Reddit community known as “watchpeopledie” for many hours. Moderators in that forum initially said the video would stay up “until someone censors us”, though it has now been taken down following requests from the New Zealand police.

The video depicts the attack in horrifying detail. It shows a gunman spending more than two minutes inside the mosque spraying worshippers with bullets.

It appears to have been filmed using an action camera strapped to the gunman’s head, and shows him ranting in advance of the attack as well as carrying it out.

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The online footage, which appeared to have been captured on a camera strapped to the gunman’s head, showed him driving as music played in his vehicle. After parking, he took two guns and walked a short distance to the mosque where he opened fire.

Over the course of five minutes, he repeatedly shot worshippers, leaving more than a dozen bodies in one room alone. He returned to the car during that period to change guns, and went back to the mosque to shoot anyone showing signs of life.

Another video being shared online shows a man being apprehended by police.

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