Facebook, Google and others join Christchurch Call to curb extremism

Sergio Conner
May 16, 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for the meeting after the March 15 Christchurch mosque shootings, in which 51 people were killed by a right-wing extremist who'd posted racist manifestos online and then live-streamed his rampage.

Users who violate the network's most serious policies will be prohibited from using Live for a certain period of time, which will begin from their first offence. Facebook, Google and Twitter struggled to swiftly take down copies of the violent video as fast as it spread on the web, prompting an global backlash from regulators who felt malicious actors had evaded Silicon Valley's censors too easily.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern welcomed Facebook's pledge.

The decision puts the United States at odds with USA tech companies including Facebook and Google, which are expected to support the effort.

Facebook is tightening restrictions on its live-streaming feature in the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, as world leaders prepare to meet for a summit aimed at curbing online terror.

It is unknown what other companies will take part in the Christchurch Call, or if the voluntary agreement will help the mainstream tech companies avoid government regulation.

"One of the challenges we faced in the days after the attack was a proliferation of many different variants of the video of the attack", vice-president of integrity Rosen said. She has said the Christchurch call is not about limiting free expression, but rather "preventing violent extremism and terrorism online".

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The summit comes as there is a growing realisation that the current abuse of social media by extremists must be countered, after the Christchurch attacker broadcast live footage on Facebook from a head-mounted camera.

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However, to the disappointment of some, a notable absentee will be Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, who held talks in Paris with Macron last week. "To be honest, I do not understand the United States", Ardern said.

According to the nine-point plan, each company will update its terms of service, create more ways for users to report or flag inappropriate content, invest in technology to detect and remove such content and publish regular transparency reports.

Knott said the United States should be involved in the effort, and anxious that its refusal to engage could undermine an issue of global importance - particularly because virtually all of the major social-media companies are based there.

Rosen said the policy before today's changes meant that users were blocked from Facebook if they kept violating the Community Standards, such as using terror propaganda in a profile picture or sharing images of child exploitation.

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