PARIS (May 15): The leaders of France and New Zealand led a summit with representatives of major global technology companies in Paris Wednesday, as governments and Silicon Valley grapple with containing hate speech and incitement to violence on the internet.
French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, were joined by leaders from the U.K. and Canada and others to approve a push dubbed the “Christchurch Call.”
Attendees, including representatives from Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc., pledged to use and develop laws, algorithms and direct intervention to curb the promotion, amplification and distribution of violent extremism on social media platforms. The initiative isn’t legally binding.
The call comes after the March 15 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 51 people were killed by a right-wing extremist who’d posted racist manifestos online and then live-streamed his rampage. Facebook and Alphabet’s YouTube were widely criticized for failing to quickly remove the video.
Companies and states pledged to endorse the initiative that includes transparent reporting of incidents, research of “technical solutions to prevent” the upload and dissemination of hate speech, the use algorithms to “redirect users from (terrorist and violent extremist content)” or to promote “credible and positive alternatives or counter-narratives,” according to an embargoed version of the call.
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey, Facebook vice president for global affairs and communications Nick Clegg and Google Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker attended the meeting, according to the French president’s office.
“At the end of the day, everyone will be judged on their actions,” Ardern told Le Monde in an interview published Wednesday.
Attendees also included U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Irish Premier Leo Varadkar and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, as well as representatives from Amazon, Microsoft Corp and Vivendi SA’s DailyMotion.
The White House said that while the U.S. is “not currently in a position to join the endorsement, we continue to support the overall goals reflected in the call. We will continue to engage governments, industry, and civil society to counter terrorist content on the internet.”