Christchurch Massacre

Facebook to curb livestreaming amid pressure

16 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

PARIS: Facebook announced Wednesday it would tighten access to its livestreaming feature as New Zealand’s premier Jacinda Ardern and French leader Emmanuel Macron prepared to launch the global “Christchurch Call” initiative to tackle the spread of extremism online, reports AFP.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has been under intense pressure since March when a self-described white supremacist used Facebook Live to stream his rampage at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, which left 51 people dead.

The California-based platform said it would ban Facebook Live users who shared extremist content and seek to reinforce its own internal controls to stop the spread of offensive videos.

“Following the horrific recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand, we’ve been reviewing what more we can do to limit our services from being used to cause harm or spread hate,” Facebook vice-president of integrity Guy Rosen said in a statement.

Along with their counterparts from Britain, Canada, Norway, Jordan and Senegal, who will also be in Paris, Ardern and Macron will later issue the Christchurch Call to fight the spread of hateful and terror-related content.

The largely symbolic initiative is intended to keep up the pressure on social media companies who face growing calls from politicians across the world to restrict the spread of extremism and disinformation on their platforms.

Many countries have already tightened legislation to introduce fines for companies that fail to block offensive content, but experts say a new wave of regulation—championed by France in particular—could be looming.

The political meeting in Paris will run in parallel to an initiative launched by Macron called “Tech for Good” which will bring together 80 tech chiefs to discuss how to harness technologies for the common good.

The heads of Wikipedia, Uber, Twitter and Google will attend, but not Zuckerberg who held private one-to-one talks with Macron last week.

The social network giant will instead be represented by its vice president for global affairs and communications Nick Clegg, the former British deputy premier.

The Christchurch Call meeting is to get underway around 1400 GMT and finish with a press conference by Ardern and Macron at 1600 GMT.

In an opinion piece in The New York Times over the weekend, Ardern said the Christchurch massacre underlined “a horrifying new trend” in extremist atrocities.