Christchurch Call: Jacinda Ardern confirms topic to be discussed in Paris

Jacinda Ardern has confirmed changes to livestreaming will be discussed at the Paris summit dedicated to clamping down on extremist online content.

The Prime Minister is co-hosting the summit with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, where the pair will address the spread of extremism on social media.

When asked how much of a focus livestreaming will be at the summit, Ardern told Newshub: "You'll see in the detail of the Call to Action when it's released... Yes, live-streaming is part of that question."

The Prime Minister said change around social media is necessary after the March 15 Christchurch terror attack in which 51 people died, and "that's what we're seeking through this - but we're doing it collaboratively". 

The meeting aims to see world leaders and CEOs of technology companies agree to a pledge called the Christchurch Call. It will be held alongside the Tech for Humanity meeting of G7 leaders, of which France is the Chair.

Ardern has called for global action against social media giants like Facebook after the alleged 28-year-old Christchurch gunman live-streamed the shooting on Facebook, sparking outrage around the world. 

"I think what's key here is recognition that governments, as much as we see around the world, they're moving towards regulation to deal with violent and extreme content online," Ardern told Newshub. 

"We can regulate around things like take-down, but it's the protocols and the standards that are in place to try and prevent the proliferation of this content in the first place that are really key."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Newshub

Will Facebook really change?

In the wake of the Christchurch attack, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the social media company would look at strengthening the rules for using Facebook Live and explore restrictions around who can use it.

"We are exploring restrictions on who can go Live depending on factors such as prior Community Standard violations," Sandberg said last month. 

"We are also investing in research to build better technology to quickly identify edited versions of violent videos and images and prevent people from re-sharing these versions."

But that was in contrast to chief executive Mark Zuckerberg telling ABC's Good Morning America that changes wouldn't be made to live-streaming as it would "fundamentally break what livestreaming is for".

But Zuckerberg has also spoken about the need for regulation and ground rules for social media companies. In an article for the Washington Post, he said he believes "a more active role for governments and regulators" is needed.

Ardern said Christchurch was "unprecedented" in that it was intended to "go global" through the livestream. She said she's discussed ways in which that could have been prevented with tech companies, "including with Mark Zuckerberg".

"Practical outcomes are what we're seeking from this work, and not just governments regulating, but actually tech companies taking ownership and responsibility over their platforms and also the technological solutions that they hold the key to."

Ardern was told there was one upload per second of the Christchurch livestream in the first 24 hours, and that it had to be removed from Facebook over 1.5 million times.

"There is harm caused by that. We alone in New Zealand had 8000 people contact 1737 seeking support because they saw that video and they were so disturbed by it," she told Newshub.

"Ultimately, there was a massive failure that I think everyone, including tech companies and governments, are keen to address."