Jacinda Ardern should get angry like Greta Thunberg - KiwiSaver provider

Jacinda Ardern should take a leaf out of Greta Thunberg's book if she wants to create meaningful change around online extremism, an economist says.

A recent survey revealed nine out of 10 KiwiSaver investors want fund managers to put pressure on social media companies like Facebook to stamp out the kinds of extremism believed to have motivated the Christchurch terror attack. 

Kiwi Wealth's annual responsible investment survey also showed three-quarters of people expect KiwiSaver providers to use their influence to compel social media companies to remove all objectionable and extremist content from their platforms.

Ardern has met with tech leaders such as Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey to discuss the Christchurch Call, a commitment to fight online extremism after the March 15 massacre was live streamed on social media. 

Sam Stubbs, managing director of nonprofit KiwiSaver provider Simplicity, says there's a "huge opportunity" to effect real change.

He told The AM Show most KiwiSavers are invested ethically, meaning provider won't invest in industries like tobacco and weapons manufacturers.

"It's the right thing to do to ask about where our money's going," he says.

Stubbs says when it comes to social media companies, shares tend to be tightly controlled by the owners meaning shareholders have less control - and that's where Ardern comes in.

"There's much more pressure on politicians, they are the ones that carry the key now," he explains.

"I think the Prime Minister should take a lesson from Greta Thunberg, she should get angry."

The 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist made headlines around the world this week for her fiery speech at the United Nations Summit Ardern is also attending, in which she denounced world leaders for betraying young people through climate inaction. 

"This is all wrong," Thunberg told the audience, her voice quivering with rage. "I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you."

Stubbs says he hopes Ardern brings a similar level of passion to addressing online extremism, a different but equally pressing issue.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are only really concerned about two things, he says, and leaders like Ardern need to hit them where it hurts. 

"One is that the business gets taken away, so customers decide they don't like them and sign off. But the second one is governments have the power to punish and tax these companies. I think they're scared of that, but they need a politician to actually take the lead and get genuinely visibly angry."