Following the shootings in Christchurch, both social media platforms and governments have been struggling with how to deal with terrorist content online, and this week saw their first concrete response. On Sunday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a new commitment called "Christchurch Call", which calls on technology platforms and governments to adopt and enforce laws to eliminate extremist content.
The call is already attracting support from countries such as France, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as technology companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft. But at least one country refuses to sign the agreement: United States.
In a statement issued today, the White House said it would "support the international community in condemning terrorist and extremist content" and thanked both. Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron for their effort, but said the United States was not "currently in a position to join the support."
The White House
Earlier this month, Facebook banned far-right commentators and conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos from his platforms, a movement that attracted intense criticism of the son of the president . The House Judiciary Committee held its own hearing on "Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism" in April, inviting right-wing activist Candace Owens to testify. "Despite trying to focus the hearing on hate crimes, Republicans quickly redirected it to concerns about anti-conservative bias."
"We remain proactive in our efforts to counteract terrorist content online," the statement said. White House, "while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press."
The new call to action is named after the Christchurch shootings, in which white nationalists killed more than 51 people in A mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand The attackers were notable for their chilling use of digital media, broadcasting live shots to Facebook.After the attack, the platforms worked to remove the video copies of the platform, but the versions of the they were still available to be seen months after the attack.
The following month, a 19-year-old man opened fire in a synagogue in San Diego, killing one person and wounding three others. This man also frequented these anonymous forums, and the San Diego shooter even thanked others on the site for publishing the racist and often violent memes that played an important role in his radicalization. On Tuesday, Facebook announced new restrictions on live video, which were conceived as a response to Christchurch's call. Twitter has not committed to any change in the policy, but expressed support in a public statement. "It is right that we join," the company wrote through its policy account, "to make sure that we are doing everything possible to combat the hatred and extremism that lead to terrorist violence."
Facebook has signed the call along with other major technology companies such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Twitter and YouTube.