New Zealand Prime Minister says Facebook, others must do more against online hate

Tech giants like Meta’s Facebook and world leaders needed to do “much more” to root out violent extremism and online radicalization, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday.

Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron launched a global initiative to end online hate in 2019 after a white supremacist killed 51 people in two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch while live streaming his outburst on Facebook.

This Christchurch appeal initiative has been supported by more than 50 countries, international organizations and tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft.

Ardern said on Friday that the initiative was successful in its first goal of establishing a crisis protocol, including a 24/7 network between platforms to quickly remove content, in response to events like those of Christchurch.

“We have had real world stress tests of these systems and they have worked very efficiently,” Ardern said in an interview for the upcoming Reuters Next.

“I am convinced that we are operating more efficiently than before,” she added. “The next challenge, however, is to go even further.”

When asked what tech companies should be doing, Ardern replied, “a lot more.”

Ardern said the next step is to focus on prevention, looking at how people find or come across hate or terrorist content online and perhaps can become radicalized.

“This is where we are really interested in the ongoing work around algorithms and the role we can all play in ensuring that online platforms do not become a place of radicalization,” she said.

A Christchurch Appeal conference earlier this year brought together the United States and Britain.

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