Christchurch Call: Tech giants, governments meet in push against extremism online

Tech giants and governments around the world,including the US for the first time, are gathering virtually this week to find better ways to stop extremist violence from spreading online while also respecting freedom of expression.

It’s part of a global effort started by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron in 2019 known as the Christchurch Call, after deadly attacks in France and Christchurch, which were streamed or shared on social networks.

The US government and four other countries are joining the effort, for the first time this year. It involves some 50 nations plus tech companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.

Since its launch, governments and tech companies have cooperated in some cases in identifying violent extremist content online. Ardern, however, says more tangible progress is needed to stop it from proliferating.

The meeting is aimed at revitalising coordination efforts, notably since US President Joe Biden entered office, and getting more tech companies involved. Macron and Ardern welcomed the US decision as a potential catalyst for stronger action.

“Countering the use of the internet by terrorists and violent extremists to radicalise and recruit is a significant priority for the United States,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. She also stressed the importance of protecting freedom of expression and “reasonable expectations of privacy.”

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