New Zealand and France will join together to battle the dissemination of objectionable content through social media, the government says.
In a press release sent last week, Ardern says the two countries plan to bring tech companies and government agencies together in a meeting to “bring to an end the ability to use social media to organise and promote terrorism and violent extremism”.
The meeting – which will take place in Paris on the 15th of May, alongside the Tech for Humanity G7 meeting – will be chaired by Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron. According to the press release, the ultimate goal of the meeting will be to encourage social media companies to sign on to the ‘Christchurch Call’ – a yet-to-be-defined charter which would impose certain duties on those who agree to be bound by it. According to a press release, the call will “eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online” – but what will be considered terrorist or violent content, how the call will be enforced, and what duties it will impose on those who agree to it remains up in the air.
Ardern’s announcement has been praised by some, but ridiculed by others. ACT party’s David Seymour says the vagueness of the meeting and Christchurch Call is “concerning”. “Jacinda Ardern will fly off to a global meeting without consulting New Zealanders or appearing to know what her Government’s position is,” he says, “Will every video that is uploaded to social media need to be vetted? Or will platforms need to change their algorithms and, in the process, remove legal content? The PM doesn’t appear to know and isn’t concerned if her demands are impractical”.
The government’s ‘global’ initiative has also been criticised for excluding Asian countries. While Western countries and companies have been invited to the summit, many Asian and South American countries and companies have not. China-based WeChat (which has more than a billion users) made headlines for failing to remove videos of the Christchurch shooting from its website. Despite this, WeChat will not be attending the conference. Neither will Weibu, which took days to respond to requests to remove the video.