Wednesday 21 August 2019
News ID: 66002
Publish Date: 15 May 2019 - 21:11
PARIS (AFP) -- 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.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has been under intense pressure since March when a white supremacist gunman 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.
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 stop their platforms being abused.
"It's an action plan, it's the start of something," Ardern told CNN in an interview on Wednesday.
Many countries have already tightened legislation to introduce penalties for companies that fail to take down offensive content once it is flagged by authorities.
The political meeting in Paris ran 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 U.S. tech giants Wikipedia, Uber, Twitter, Microsoft and Google will attend, but not Zuckerberg who held private one-to-one talks with Macron last week.
The U.S. government has not endorsed the Christchurch Call and was only represented at a junior level at a meeting of G7 digital ministers which was also taking place on Wednesday in Paris.
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.
"It was designed to be broadcast on the internet. The entire event was livestreamed... the scale of this horrific video's reach was staggering," she wrote.
Ardern said Facebook removed 1.5 million copies of the video within 24 hours of the attack, but she still found herself among those who inadvertently saw the footage when it auto-played on their social media feeds.
Around 8,000 New Zealanders called a mental health hotline after seeing the video, she told CNN.

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