World Leaders Asked to Prevent Social Media Use as ‘Weapon of Hate’

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron will lead a global effort to stop social media from promoting terrorism in the wake of recent attacks that devastated New Zealand and Sri Lanka, NPR reports.

Ardern noted that the white supremacist gunman in Christchurch, who killed 50 people at two mosques in March, had livestreamed the attack. Wearing a camera attached to a helmet, he broadcast his shooting spree on Facebook. The company later removed the video.

“What we’re trying to tackle here is a global issue, and therefore I think requires a global response,” she said.

Macron and Ardern plan to host a meeting with world leaders and tech company executives in Paris on May 15, alongside a Tech for Humanity meeting of digital ministers from leading industrial nations.

The leaders will be asked to commit to a pledge called the “Christchurch Call” designed to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online, reports RFI.

Ardern said during a news conference announcing the meeting that 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.”

Ardern says their efforts will uphold the principles of a free Internet, but Adrian Shahbaz, a research director for the D.C.-based watchdog Freedom House, worries where the discussions could lead.

“There is this tendency after large-scale, national security crises and terrorist attacks to overreact to the problem,” he told NPR.

“The fear we have is that we’re sort of sleepwalking towards a future in which all social media posts are filtered prior to being posted.”

See also: How Big Data Feeds ‘Online Mafia’

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