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PM announces 'Christchurch Call' to end use of social media for terrorism

The Prime Minister has announced NZ and France will seek to end use of social media for acts of terrorism.

In the wake of the March 15 terrorist attacks in Christchurch, PM Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand and France will join forces to end the organisation and promotion of terrorism and violent extremism on social media. 

A meeting will take place in Paris on May 15, co-chaired by Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron, in a effort to see world leaders and CEOs of tech companies agree to a pledge called the ‘Christchurch Call’.

In Parliament, shortly after the attacks, Ardern called for more restrictions on social media companies.

"We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published. They are the publisher, not just the postman. They cannot have the profits without the responsibility.”

In a statement today, Ardern said the Christchurch terror attacks saw social media used in an unprecedented way as a tool to promote an act of terrorism and hate.

"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."

Many experts have called for social media giants like Facebook to confront their role in terrorism. Former CEO of Facebook Australia & NZ Stephen Scheeler said Facebook could "turn off live-streaming tomorrow if they wanted to". 

Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr, who broke the Cambridge Analytica scandal, said Facebook was responsible for distributing the disturbing video of the Christchurch attacks around the world and inciting violence.

Read more: The tangled path to terrorism: How the journey beginsSocial media must confront its role in terrorism

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. 

Ardern said it is critical platforms like Facebook are not perverted as a tool for terrorism, and instead "become part of a global solution to countering extremism."

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

“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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