Major tech firms on Wednesday pledged to pursue a range of new measures aimed at stamping out violent extremist content on the internet, amid growing pressure from governments in the wake of the massacres at two New Zealand mosques in March.
On April 10, less than a month after a white supremacist terrorist shot and killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, the country's parliament voted 119 to one to pass gun control legislation that banned most of the country's automatic and semiautomatic weapons.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is leading an effort to secure global commitments to prevent the sharing of extremist content online.
"Terrorism and violent extremism are complex societal problems that require an all-of-society response", the tech companies said in a joint statement provided to CNN Business. Copies of the video spread rapidly across Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, with the social media companies struggling to remove them all.
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The attacker streamed the killing live on Facebook, which announced tougher livestreaming policies on the eve of the meetings "to limit our services from being used to cause harm or spread hate".
The tech giant said there would be a "one-strike policy" banning those who violate new Facebook Live rules. In the first 24 hours after the Christchurch attack, Facebook removed the shooter's video 1.5 million times as people continuously uploaded it.
It will also put US$7.5 million towards research partnerships to improve its image and video analysis technology that failed to block every upload of the gunman's video footage to its platform. "Social media companies will be left with the thorny task of deciding what constitutes violent extremist content, since it is not defined in the accord". However, as a voluntary initiative it is for individual countries and companies to decide how to honour their pledge.
They also promised to take measures to reduce the risk that such content is livestreamed, including flagging it up for real-time review.
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Facebook VP of Integrity Guy Rosen said that up to this point, those who posted content that violated their community standards would simply have their post taken down.
Focusing on the "unprecedented" cooperation between governments and corporations, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern glossed over the U.S. absence from the global agreement, insisting that Washington's lukewarm response "demonstrates broad and unquestionable support for the call".
While previous efforts to fight online "extremism" have not found great success, Macron said "the Christchurch Call is different".
Under the First Amendment, American law protects a broader and more robust concept of free speech than the law in most other countries.
Facebook, which dominates social media and has faced the harshest criticism for overlooking the misuse of consumer data and not blocking live broadcasts of violent actions, said separately it is toughening its livestreaming policies.
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