New Zealand, France announce bid to end violent extremism online

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media during a press conference at the Justice Precinct in Christchurch on March 28, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 April 2019

New Zealand, France announce bid to end violent extremism online

  • A French Muslim group said on Monday it was suing Facebook and YouTube for allowing the grisly live broadcast of Christchurch massacre to be streamed

WELLINGTON: New Zealand and France will bring together global leaders at a Paris summit next month aimed at stopping social media being used to organize and promote terrorism, the countries’ leaders announced Wednesday.
Political leaders and tech company executives have been called to a meeting — to be co-chaired by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron — in Paris on May 15.
They will be asked to commit to a pledge called the “Christchurch Call” designed to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.
Ardern said the March 15 terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, in which 50 Muslim worshippers were killed, saw social media used “in an unprecedented way as a tool to promote an act of terrorism and hate.”
The mosque attacks were live-streamed on the Internet and showed distressing footage of the gunman firing indiscriminately at men, women and children.
In Paris, the Elysee presidential palace said the meeting would ensure that “new, concrete measures are taken so that what happened in Christchurch does not happen again.”
Nearly six weeks after the massacre, social media sites are still struggling to stamp out copies of the gunman’s video.
“We’re calling on the leaders of tech companies to join with us and help achieve our goal of eliminating violent extremism online at the Christchurch Summit in Paris,” Arden said.
The meeting will be held alongside the “Tech for Humanity” meeting of G7 Digital Ministers, and France’s separate “Tech for Good” summit also scheduled for May 15.
“We all need to act, and that includes social media providers taking more responsibility for the content that is on their platforms, and taking action so that violent extremist content cannot be published and shared,” Ardern said.
“It’s critical that technology platforms like Facebook are not perverted as a tool for terrorism, and instead become part of a global solution to countering extremism.”

Macron has previously stated his ambition for France to take a leading role in devising new regulatory measures “to reconcile technology with the common good.”
Ardern said the joint action was not aimed at curbing freedom of expression but at preventing extremist violence from spreading online.
“I don’t think anyone would argue that the terrorist on March 15 had a right to livestream the murder of 50 people and that is what this call is very specifically focussed on,” she said.
A French Muslim group said on Monday it was suing Facebook and YouTube for allowing the grisly live broadcast of Christchurch massacre to be streamed.
The livestream lasting 17 minutes was shared extensively on a variety of Internet platforms and uploaded again nearly as fast as it could be taken down.
New Zealand has banned both the livestreamed footage of the attack and the manifesto written and released by Brenton Tarrant, who faces 50 murder charges and 39 of attempted murder following the mosque attacks.


Google tightens political ads policy to thwart abuse

Updated 21 November 2019

Google tightens political ads policy to thwart abuse

  • The Internet company said its rules already ban any advertiser, including those with political messages, to lie

SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc’s Google will stop giving advertisers the ability to target election ads using data such as public voter records and general political affiliations, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The move comes at a time when social media platforms are under pressure over their handling of political advertising ahead of the US presidential election in 2020.
Google said it would limit audience targeting for election ads to age, gender and general location at a postal code level. Political advertisers also can still contextually target, such as serving ads to people reading about a certain topic.
Previously, verified political advertisers could also target ads using data gleaned from users’ behavior, such as search actions, that categorized them as left-leaning, right-leaning or independent. They could also upload data such as voter file lists to target ads to a lookalike audience which exhibited similar behaviors to those in the data.
Google will enforce the new approach in the United Kingdom within a week, ahead of the country’s general election on Dec. 12. It said it would enforce it in the European Union by the end of the year and in the rest of the world starting on Jan. 6, 2020.
“Given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters’ confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms,” Scott Spencer, vice president of product management for Google Ads, said in the blog post.
Google is the top seller of online ads in the United States, but smaller rivals with fewer targeting restrictions may now attract more business from campaigns, one political ad buyer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Wednesday.
Google added examples to its misrepresentation policy to show that it would not allow false claims about election results or the eligibility of political candidates based on age or birthplace.
Last month, Google refused to remove an ad run by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign on its YouTube video-streaming service that Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s campaign said contained false claims, because it did not violate the policy.
A Google spokeswoman told Reuters on Wednesday that the video would still be allowed under the latest policy.
Social media giant Facebook Inc. has been criticized by lawmakers and regulators over its decision to not fact-check ads run by politicians on its platform, while Twitter has decided to ban political ads.
Google also clarified that its policies for political and nonpolitical ads prohibit doctored and manipulated media.
On Dec. 3, the company will expand its ad transparency efforts to ads related to state-level elections, including them in an online database created to catalog political advertising.