Macron and Ardern seek pledge to eliminate violent content online

Lester Mason
May 16, 2019

"Underscored by the horrific terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, we agree with the overarching message of the Christchurch Call for Action, and we thank Prime Minister Ardern and President Macron for organising this important effort", the White House statement said.

A French presidential source said it was time for tech companies to "anticipate how their features will be exploited".

Ahead of the summit, Facebook on Tuesday announced two efforts to address regulators' concerns and stop the spread of harmful content on its services. The company said that users who break certain rules - for instance, "someone who shares a link to a statement from a terrorist group with no context" - will be blocked for a set period of time from broadcasting to Facebook Live. According to her, the move "shows the Christchurch Call is being acted on".

Attendees will also include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Irish Premier Leo Varadkar, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Jordan's King Abdullah II, as well as representatives from Microsoft Corp. and Vivendi SA's DailyMotion.

Ardern also said prior to the ban, New Zealand had "pretty permissive gun legislation", and while she thinks guns are necessary in some instances, she felt the laws went too far. There will be a 30-day ban for first offenses.

Spokespeople for Macron and Ardern did not respond to requests for comment. Facebook, Google and Twitter each have hired thousands of reviewers and created new artificial-intelligence tools with the goal of thwarting hate speech, extremism and terrorism online.

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.

To assist with such purges, the company is investing $7.5 million in research, across the University of Maryland, Cornell University and the University of California, Berkley, to improve video detection software.

The firms said they would update their terms of use to "expressly prohibit the distribution of terrorist and violent extremist content".

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.

Last year, France struck a six-month deal with Facebook that allows regulators unprecedented access to study the tech giant's approach to fighting posts and photos that attack people on the basis of race, religion, sexuality or gender.

While not having Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the meeting is regrettable, "what's fundamental is for Facebook to agree to this plan", Ardern told Le Monde in an interview published Wednesday. "To be honest, I do not understand the United States", she said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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