United Nations General Assembly: Jacinda Ardern, Emmanuel Macron pile pressure on social media companies

More than 100 world leaders have met for the first time since the pandemic at the United Nations general assembly.

The head of the organisation is warning the world is in big trouble and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern doesn't disagree but she used the day to pile the pressure on social media companies hiding their secret algorithms.

The United Nations gang was back together again on Wednesday for the General Assembly. Amongst all the power was New Zealand. 

"It is good for everyone to be back, you sense everyone's joy being face to face again," said Ardern. 

That included face time with Ukraine's Prime Minister, a warm hug with Iceland and Samoa and the EU, and a kiss on the hand from Poland.

"We have weighty issues that all of us are dealing with and coming together to grapple," Ardern said. 

What a journey to come together. The Prime Minister hitched a ride across the pond from the Queen's funeral on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plane.

"I sent a quick text message - simple as that."

Though the General Assembly is anything but simple. Streets are locked down and media masses are assembled in the stinking heat as world leaders, like new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, just stroll by into meetings

But the excitement by leaders to meet has been tempered by the mood of the UN Secretary-General who gave one of his bluntest speeches yet, saying "our world is in big trouble".

Ardern said the world is at a "significant crossroads". 

"We've had persistent challenges like climate change but we've overlaid on top of that the challenge of managing a pandemic and then a war in Europe."

With crisis after crisis stacking up, there's a battle for global attention and Ardern wants it on her pet project, the Christchurch Call - to fight online extremism.

After a summit with French President Emmanuel Macron, the pair launched an initiative with Microsoft and Twitter to research social media's secret algorithms.

"I think it's very hard for governments to say they are going to step in and regulate something that is so poorly understood, Ardern said. 

"Regulation will be much more painful than this cooperation because it will be less smart, I would say," said Macron.

But the biggest players - Facebook and TikTok - aren't taking part.

"All these players are more and more aware the current system is no more sustainable because the pressure will increase constantly," said Macron.

The French President told Newshub he's told social media companies to start moderating. 

"So they have to work on it, these two things," he said, before giving Newshub a wink. 

A wink for us and a thumbs up and handshake for the Prime Minister. That's one way to wrap up the first day of leaders' week.