Macron, Ardern seek pledge to purge extremism from social media

The leaders of New Zealand and France plan to host a meeting of global leaders and tech executives in an effort to stamp out the transmission of violent extremism on social-media sites.

Meetings over two days in Paris next month will take place alongside a Group of Seven meeting of digital ministers and a separate technology summit, New Zealand’s government said Wednesday. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she and her co-chair, French President Emmanuel Macron, would seek a pledge from attendees to end the use of social media to organize and promote terrorism and extremist violence.

“Our plan is to try and build unity around this issue,” Ms. Ardern said.

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She said details of the pledge were still being developed, and attendees for the event are yet to be confirmed.

New Zealand’s leader is seeking to take a leadership role on the issue after a gunman killed 50 people during an attack on two mosques in Christchurch, the country’s second-largest city, on March 15. A video of the assault was posted on Facebook Inc.’s live-streaming service and likely viewed millions of times in various formats on the internet.

Footage of the massacre was online for about an hour until it was removed from Facebook’s site, stirring debate about what technology companies are doing to tackle viral content that can incite violence, influence elections and divide communities. Facebook later acknowledged limitations in its handling of live broadcasts and said its artificial-intelligence tools hadn’t been able to catch the video.

Governments are grappling with the spread of such content, and threatening tougher laws to clamp down on the misuse of social media.

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After the New Zealand attacks, Australia passed new measures that make it an offense for social-media platforms not to remove violent material quickly. New Zealand has suggested it will introduce similar changes while Singapore has drafted a law requiring tech companies to immediately issue corrections for false information published on their platforms.

“What’s clear is what happened on the 15th of March was unprecedented in the way that it used online platforms to disseminate the terrorist attack” in Christchurch, Ms Ardern told reporters in Auckland. “It was horrific and I don’t think anyone would argue, not anyone from tech companies or anyone from government, that that is the way that online platforms should be used.”

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