technology

Tech firms and 17 govts back Christchurch Call

Major tech companies have pledged to review the way their algorithms are funnelling users toward extremist content and to share their findings with each other, as part of the agreement reached overnight, reports RNZ's Jo Moir from Paris.

Tech company and world leaders have signed an unprecedented Christchurch Call agreement to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.

The meeting, the first of its kind, in Paris overnight saw all of the major technology companies, 17 countries and the European Commission sign up to the call initiated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron, in the wake of the Christchurch attack that killed 51 people.

The action plan asks tech companies to review the operation of their algorithms that are driving users towards or amplifying terrorist content online and find ways to intervene earlier.

In order to try and prevent an attack like the one at Christchurch ever happening again, tech companies have agreed to share the effects of algorithim secrets with each other.

Ms Ardern has called on them to report progress regularly to governments.

New Zealand and global investors worth more than $NZ5 trillion are uniting to put pressure on companies who have signed up to the Christchurch Call.

Launched alongside the summit in Paris overnight, the New Zealand Super Fund has coordinated the investor group, worth more than 15 times the GDP of the New Zealand economy.

The group wants to get Facebook, Twitter and Google - who all have social media platforms - to strengthen controls that will prevent the live streaming and distribution of objectionable content.

They plan to raise concerns with the companies' board and management on these issues.

The investor group is made up of 55 funds - 27 from New Zealand and 28 from across the globe.

New Zealand banks, ACC, and global trusts and pension funds make up the group.

The United States has snubbed the Christchurch Call summit by not attending or endorsing the agreement.

In a statement from the White House, a spokesperson said the US stood with the international community in condemning terrorist and violent extremist content online in the strongest terms.

But it said the US was not currently in a position to join the agreement, although it supported its the overall goals.

It cited freedom of expression and freedom of the press as reasons it would not be joining the agreement, and said promoting credible, alternative narratives was the best way to defeat terrorist messaging.

Read the Christchurch Call here

Signatories to the 'Christchurch Call':

Australia, Canada, European Commission, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Companies: Amazon, Daily Motion, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Qwant, Twitter, YouTube.

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