New Zealand Seeks Global Support for Tougher Measures on Online Violence

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand will attempt this week to use the terrorist attack that killed 51 Muslim worshipers in Christchurch mosques in March to demand that the biggest internet platforms do more to stamp out violent and extremist content.

Ms. Ardern will be in France with President Emmanuel Macron to sign an agreement they crafted called the “Christchurch Call” that asks the social media giants to examine the software that directs people to violent content, and to share more data with government authorities and each other to help eradicate toxic online material, according to officials from New Zealand and France involved in drafting the proposal.

The accused gunman’s use of social media to live stream his rampage in New Zealand and to share a hate-filled manifesto crystallized the vulnerability of internet platforms to extremist and violent views.

Ms. Ardern’s effort adds momentum to a global push to curb the power of the world’s largest internet platforms.

Social media companies will be left with the thorny task of deciding what constitutes violent extremist content, since it is not defined in the accord.

While the pledge isn’t enforceable, Ms. Ardern and Mr. Macron hope an accord tied to the Christchurch massacre will prod the internet companies into action. If improvements aren’t made, the officials said, tougher mandatory regulations loom.

The pledge asks for several commitments from technology companies, including robust enforcement of their terms of service, reducing the risks of live streaming and sharing research about the software that flags objectionable content. Versions of the gunman’s video have remained on Facebook and Instagram since the attacks.

The social giants must also promise to re-evaluate their algorithms that direct users to extremist content, and commit to redirecting people looking for extremist material. Instagram has deployed that measure to help users searching images of self-harm.

Under the agreement, governments must make a range of promises, including adopting and enforcing laws that ban objectionable content — as New Zealand did in the wake of the attacks by making the possession or sharing of the gunman’s video a crime — and setting guidelines on how traditional media outlets can report terrorism without amplifying it.

New Zealand officials visited the United States for meetings at the White House and the State Department to urge the administration to join the pact. Officials also visited the headquarters of technology companies, said a senior New Zealand official who attended the meetings.

Concerns from American officials included how the pledge would affect First Amendment rights to free speech, several officials said. Ms. Ardern has said she was deliberately avoiding a broader debate about hate speech to focus the pledge narrowly on violent content.

“This isn’t about freedom of expression; this is about preventing violent extremism and terrorism online,” she said last month. “I don’t think anyone would argue that the terrorist had a right to live stream the murder of 50 people.”


Source link Business

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *