U.S. doesn’t answer Christchurch Call - Activate World

U.S. doesn’t answer Christchurch Call

The Trump Administration said it would not sign an international accord to persuade internet platforms to eradicate violent and extremist content. This position highlights differences between the U.S. and other countries on the government’s role in determining acceptable online content.

Lunchtime Conversations:

  • How can governments and social media platforms find a balance between protecting the principles of a free and open internet and stopping the spread of extremist content? 
  • Does the increasing frequency with which terrorists become “self-radicalized” by online material underscore the importance of proposed laws to hold big tech companies more accountable?
  • Currently, every tech company is applying and adhering to their own rules for terrorist content with no transparency. Should every social network be held to the same standards, and should these standards be democratically decided?


  • Dipayan Ghosh, who worked on privacy policy issues at Facebook and in President Barack Obama’s administration, said the absence of the United States from the accord showed that it was ceding tech regulation to other nations.
  • France has proposed new laws that would require companies to eliminate harmful content, and Britain put forward a similar proposal last month. After the Christchurch massacre, Australia passed a law that made company executives personally liable for the spread of violent material.
  • “This attack was part of a horrifying new trend that seems to be spreading around the world: It was designed to be broadcast on the internet,” said Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister.


President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand met in Paris to sign what they are calling the Christchurch Call. The nonbinding agreement was in response to a terrorist attack on mosques in March that took the lives of 51 Muslim worshippers. The massacre was live streamed on Facebook and virally spread across the internet.

The White House said it supported the Christchurch Call’s aims but was “not in a position to join the endorsement.” Officials there said they believed the document could present constitutional concerns, potentially conflicting with the First Amendment, even though Trump previously has threatened to regulate social media out of concern that it’s biased against conservatives.

Ms. Ardern is using the Christchurch killings to garner support for keeping violent and extremist content off the largest internet platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have all signed on to the Christchurch Call and its nine-point plan addressing extremist and violent content. 

The plan calls for the companies to take steps like updating their terms of use; identifying checks on live streaming; sharing technology development; and collaborating on protocols for responding to crises. They also agreed to improve tools for users to report objectionable content and to publish reports on efforts to detect and remove such material.

Terrorism and violent extremism are complex societal problems that require an all-of-society response. For our part, the commitments we are making today will further strengthen the partnership that governments, society and the technology industry must have to address this threat,” the companies said in a joint statement.

Sources: BBCThe New York Times, The Verge

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash