'Social media didn't shoot 50 people': Sean Plunket blasts Jacinda Ardern's pledge to fight online terrorism

Magic Talk host Sean Plunket says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has her priorities completely wrong on the back of the announcement that New Zealand and France would lead the way in stopping social media use for terrorism.

On Wednesday, Ardern announced New Zealand and France would host a meeting in Paris in May aimed at bringing together world leaders and technology company chief executives to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.

In the wake of the March 15 Christchurch mosque attacks, which were livestreamed online, the parties would agree to a pledge called the Christchurch Call.

"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.

But Plunket said "taking on social media" was "ridiculous and a rather futile exercise".

"Social media didn't shoot 50 people in Christchurch. Social media didn't plant bombs in Sri Lanka," he said on Wednesday.

"There are a few issues around social media, but taking on social media seems to me rather ridiculous and a rather futile exercise.

"Some people use social media to interact with others, and spread or discuss ideas that other people find unpleasant, uncomfortable or downright wrong. Well that's living in freedom people, and we better get used to it."

But Ardern said it isn't about limiting any freedoms.

"Our plan is to try and build unity around this issue - that we, of course, maintain the principles of a free, open and secure internet. This isn't about freedom of expression - this is about preventing violent extremism and terrorism online."

Plunket said the meeting in Paris, which will be held alongside the Tech for Humanity meeting of G7 nations' digital ministers, would comprise of bureaucrats grandstanding, patting each other on the backs and sipping coffee on the streets.

"We have a Prime Minister who certainly appears more in women's magazines and lifestyle magazines than she does in any real media.

"We have her running off to Paris with her mate Macron to basically say 'Look at what a good person I am'. It will make no difference."

While it's unknown which world leaders will attend the meeting, many from across the political spectrum have already backed greater regulation of social media companies.

Days after the attacks, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote to the G20 chairman, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, asking for social media reform to be a top priority at the next annual meeting of world leaders.

The United Kingdom, led by the Conservative Party, is also looking at introducing an independent watchdog to write a code of practise for technology companies.

But Plunket believes changing social media for the better was up to its users.

He also listed several terrorist organisations, including the IRA, Ku Klux Klan, Black Hand and the Tamil Tigers, which he pointed out were able to successfully organise and terrorise people without the help of social media.

"Social media isn't the problem, terrorism and extremism is, and it is naive to think that having a gay old time in Paris, sipping French wine, and being back-slappingly mutually virtuous is going to make any difference."

But other experts suggest that letting abusive, discriminatory language go unchallenged online emboldens people to think their views are right or unopposed.

After the Christchurch tragedy, security expert Paul Buchanan described those who let abusive commentary slide as "enablers", complicit in allowing people to perpetrate such atrocities.

"It's the vast pool of enablers who sit silently in front of people who are ranting and raving and I think [this is the] pool that allows for these people to perpetrate these acts," he told The AM Show.

Plunket said Ardern should focus her priorities on issues within New Zealand that she promised to solve, like child poverty, housing and the tax system - which she last week ruled out adjusting with a capital gains tax.

He did, however, give Ardern praise for her swift action in leading changes to gun laws in the wake of the Christchurch massacre.