Politics

Ardern, Macron to chair meeting to stop social media’s use in terrorism

New Zealand and France will work together to stop social media's use in organising and promoting terrorism and violent extremism in the wake of last month's terrorist attacks in Christchurch that killed 50 people. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron will co-chair a meeting in Paris on May 15 that will bring together technology companies and governments from around the world, Ardern said in a statement. 

“The March 15 terrorist attacks saw social media used in an unprecedented way as a tool to promote an act of terrorism and hate. We are asking for a show of leadership to ensure social media cannot be used again the way it was in the March 15 terrorist attack,” Ardern said.

Facebook came under fierce criticism after it live-streamed video of the attack, enabling its viral propagation elsewhere online. Facebook has publicly said it is strengthening the rules for using Facebook Live, taking further steps to address hate on its platforms, and supporting the New Zealand community.  It also said it removed 1.5 million videos of the Christchurch mosque shootings in the first 24 hours after the attack. Of those, 1.2 million were blocked at upload. 

The Paris meeting aims to see world leaders and CEOs of tech companies agree to a pledge called the ‘Christchurch Call’ to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online. 

It will be held alongside the “Tech for Humanity” meeting of G7 Digital Ministers, which France is chairing, and France’s separate “Tech for Good” summit, both on May 15. Ardern will also meet with civil society leaders on May 14 to discuss the content of the call.

“Social media platforms can connect people in many very positive ways, and we all want this to continue. But for too long, it has also been possible to use these platforms to incite extremist violence, and even to distribute images of that violence, as happened in Christchurch. This is what needs to change," Ardern said. 

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