'Christchurch Call': NZ and France seek to end use of social media for acts of terrorism

If we want to prevent violent extremist content online, we need to take a global approach that involves other governments, tech companies and civil society leaders Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand and France will bring together countries and tech companies in an attempt to end the ability to use social media to organise and promote terrorism and violent extremism.

The campaign comes in the wake of the March 15 terrorist attacks in Christchurch, where 50 people were killed. The killings were livestreamed on social media.

The campaign will be discussed in a meeting in Paris on May 15, and will be co-chaired by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The 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.

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

“The March 15 terrorist attacks saw social media used in an unprecedented way as a tool to promote an act of terrorism and hate,” says Ardern.

“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.”

“We’re calling on the leaders of tech companies to join with us and help achieve our goal of eliminating violent extremism online at the Christchurch Summit in Paris," she adds.

“We all need to act, and that includes social media providers taking more responsibility for the content that is on their platforms, and taking action so that violent extremist content cannot be published and shared.

“It’s critical that technology platforms like Facebook are not perverted as a tool for terrorism, and instead become part of a global solution to countering extremism.”

She says the meeting presents an opportunity for an act of unity between governments and the tech companies.

“In the wake of the March 15 attacks, New Zealanders united in common purpose to ensure such attacks never occur again,” she says.

“If we want to prevent violent extremist content online we need to take a global approach that involves other governments, tech companies and civil society leaders.

“Social media platforms can connect people in many very positive ways, and we all want this to continue," she states.

“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.”

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