Global leaders and tech giants on Wednesday pledged to combat the spread of hate and violent content online at a summit in Paris, AP reported.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron announced the “Christchurch Call to Action” at a meeting of digital leaders for the G7 nations. In March,51 people were killed in attacks at two mosques in Christchurch city of New Zealand. A part of the attack was broadcast live on Facebook, drawing public criticism against social media platforms.
The agreement was drafted by the French and New Zealand governments. It aims to prevent similar abuses of internet while insisting that actions must preserve “the principles of a free, open and secure internet, without compromising human rights and fundamental freedoms”. The agreement is not legally binding.
“Terrorism and extremist violence affect us all – regardless of culture, country, religion, or race,” Ardern said in her opening statement. “The terrorist attack on March 15 was specifically designed to be broadcast on the internet, and it was. The sheer scale of its reach was staggering.”
US tech companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon backed the Christchurch Call to Action. Seventeen countries, including France, New Zealand, Britain, Canada, and the European Union’s executive body also signed the accord, while several countries that were not present at the meeting endorsed it.
The United States, however, declined to join the initiative, reported CNN. “While the United States is not currently in a position to join the endorsement, we continue to support the overall goals reflected in the call. We will continue to engage governments, industry and civil society to counter terrorist content on the internet,” the White House said in a statement.
The “Christchurch Call” was drafted as 80 chief executive officers and executives from technology companies gathered in Paris for a “Tech for Good” summit to address how they can use their global influence for public good.
At the summit, tech companies committed to measures to prevent the spread of terrorist or violent extremist content and promised to take measures to reduce the risk of such content being streamed live.
Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, said it is investing $7.5 million to improve technology aimed at finding videos and photos that have been manipulated to avoid detection.
Jacinda Ardern welcomed Facebook’s pledge. “There is a lot more work to do, but I am pleased Facebook has taken additional steps today... and look forward to a long-term collaboration to make social media safer,” she said in a statement.