Terrorism online: Emmanuel Macron, Jacinda Ardern to host Paris summit to curb extremism

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Published: April 24, 2019 8:14:40 AM

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron plan to co-chair a meeting of global leaders and technology company executives next month as they aim to curb the promotion of violent extremism online.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Reuters)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron plan to co-chair a meeting of global leaders and technology company executives next month as they aim to curb the promotion of violent extremism online.

The meeting in Paris on May 15 will seek agreement on a pledge, entitled the “Christchurch Call,” to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content on social media platforms, Ardern said in a statement Wednesday. The gathering comes two months after a gunman killed 50 people at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

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

Ardern has led calls for Facebook Inc. and other social media platforms to stop hosting extremist propaganda, after the Christchurch attack was live-streamed and repeatedly shared online. While some nations such as Australia have passed their own legislation to tackle the issue, Ardern argues a global response will be more effective.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Attendees at the event are yet to be confirmed. It will be held alongside the “Tech for Humanity” meeting of Group-of-Seven digital ministers that is chaired by France.

Ardern has had preliminary conversations with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other chief executives about the final wording of the pledge, and their response has been positive, she told reporters.

“No tech company, just like no government, wishes to see violent extremism and terrorism online,” she said. “So we have a starting point that is one of unity.”

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