Christchurch terror attack: Australian PM calls for mass social media crackdown

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is calling for a mass social media crackdown in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks.

The alleged gunman used Facebook to livestream his shooting, which was then shared via YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit.

As the fallout from the terrorist shooting continues, Morrison wants G20-wide restrictions on these tech giants, warning it's "unacceptable to treat the internet as an ungoverned space".

He's written to G20 chairman, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, asking for social media reform to the top priority at the next annual meeting of world leaders, which represents two-thirds of the world population.

"It is imperative that the global community works together to ensure that technology firms meet their moral obligation to protect the communities which they serve and from which they profit," he wrote, in a letter shared to Twitter.

"We know that violent extremists use the internet for recruitment, radicalisation and to carry out their evil acts.

"That they will continue to try to use any means at their disposal does not mean governments and technology firms should abrogate their responsibilities to keep our communities safe."

He calls on the G20 to "ensure that there are clear consequences, not only for those who carry out such horrific acts, but for those who facilitate them".

Internet and social media companies should be compelled to quickly remove "content by actors who encourage, normalise, recruit, facilitate or commit terrorist and violent activities".

Morrison told The Australian on Monday night that tech companies were international so required the international community to "force them to act".

"They can't operate as if the law doesn't apply to them. The simple fact is, if a company cannot offer part of its service safely, it has a corporate social responsibility to consider the ethics of whether it should be offered at all," he said.

"There is no doubt they can develop the technological capability to... address this issue. The question is whether there is the will to make it happen."

He's not the only one demanding action. New Zealand's Chief Censor David Shanks says Facebook isn't untouchable and hopes the attacks will force a conversation about the broadcasting of objectionable material online.

He says he doesn't agree with the argument often presented by social media platforms.

"The argument that social media platforms advance around this is effectively they are like a phone company. They are not responsible for the content users put on their platforms or deliver through their platforms.

"It doesn't wash with me."

And Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was included in Morrison's correspondence, has indicated disapproval at social media giants such as Facebook for allowing graphic content to be uploaded and shared widely.

"I do think there are further questions to be answered. Obviously these social media platforms have wide reach," she said.

"This is a problem that goes well beyond New Zealand, it has played out in other parts of the world. So whilst we might have seen action taken here, that hasn't prevented [the footage] being circulated beyond New Zealand shores.

"This is an issue that goes well beyond New Zealand, but it doesn't mean we can't play an active role in getting it resolved."


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