Ardern mastery of detail and engaging on extremist use of social media

David Farrar writes that he was invited to attend a “dialogue” on the ” Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online” at the offices of InternetNZ on Friday 10 May. He was surprised by the engagement there by Jacinda Ardern, and he was impressed by how she handled things, and how she was “over all the detail of what is a very complex landscape which is an intersection of Internet architecture, free speech issues, social media companies, behavioural incentives and issues of market dominance”.

The purpose was “engagement” and to ” to build a unified sense of purpose on constructive measures to address violent extremist content online”.

This is stuff Governments do all the time. I’ve been to a lot of these.

I was a bit surprised when I got the agenda 48 hours before the meeting and read that the PM was attending the second half of the meeting for around half an hour. That was pretty unusual for a PM to attend a consultation meeting. I figured it was mainly for optics – allow for a photo op (which was mentioned in the agenda) and allow us to hear what the Government wants to achieve directly.

As the meeting resumed after the tea break, Jacinda walked in and sat down in the circle of chairs with us. I looked around the room for her minders (as I know a few of them), and there were none there. This is pretty rare. Normally a press secretary will always be with the PM, making sure they record what is said, and also an advisor to field technical questions.

As the discussion from the first session was summarised, the PM grabbed a piece of paper and started taking notes. Not a staff member, but the PM. Then the facilitator handed the meeting over to the PM. She actually chaired or facilitated the next session herself after a brief outline of what they are trying to do. As each person made a contribution, she responded with comments or followups and kept making notes.

It dawned on me that rather than this being the PM telling us what she is doing, she was genuinely engaging with those in the room for their ideas about various issues and complexities.

She was very much over the detail of what is a very complex landscape which is an intersection of Internet architecture, free speech issues, social media companies, behavioural incentives and issues of market dominance.

The combination of her mastery of detail, her actively seeking opinions and taking her own notes, her lack of staff in the room, and also the total lack of barriers between the PM and participants (all sitting around in a circle) made everyone in that room feel they were genuinely being useful, and this wasn’t just tick the box consultation. Her performance reminded me in fact of John Key at various events, as Key had a way of talking with an audience, rather than to an audience, that was first class.

This sounds very promising, both that social media issues related to violence and terrorism may have a chance of being addressed by international leaders and online media companies, and also that Ardern is growing into the job as Prime Minister and on some issues at least she is very capable of leading.

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22 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  13th May 2019

    It’s one thing to know the detail but another to weight the pros and cons and produce sensible decisions. Seems to me the jury is still out on that.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  13th May 2019

      That is an excellent point.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  13th May 2019

      Well you could go the other way, like announce a decision without even telling your closest political colleagues , knowing they won’t second guess you. This after years in the PMs chair.
      That’s how the flag referendum surprise was done. Hubris. He thought his smooth talk and happy talk would win over a country.

      Reply
    • duperez

       /  13th May 2019

      You’re right AW but of course sensible decisions are only sensible to those who want to think they’re sensible – if they’re not agreed with they’re not sensible.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  13th May 2019

        How about deciding to set up a working group to recommend a capital gains tax and then deciding not to implement it?

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  13th May 2019

          I’m sure there are reasons other than being prepared to accept and implement their recommendations carte blanche for having things like working groups. One time we even had a referendum on MMP then a Review with recommendations and nothing happened.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  14th May 2019

            Rejecting their recommendations carte banche suggests not.

            Reply
        • Duker

           /  14th May 2019

          How about setting up a Tax Working group -the 2009 version -and not implementing its recommended land tax !
          But slyly bring in its recommended GST increase after the election while denying it would do so during election campaign

          Reply
  2. lurcher1948

     /  13th May 2019

    I’m surprised you aren’t commenting on her hair color or dress

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  14th May 2019

      I’m sure her women’s mags will be for you, Lurch.

      Reply
  3. harryk

     /  13th May 2019

    Some accounts I’ve used for research have been taken down by Facebook as a direct result of Ardern’s pressure post Christchurch. ‘Letters from White South Africa’ was indeed racist and often separatist, but published a wealth of useful information, valid criticisms of the Govt of RSA, and broke stories. They also promoted the white genocide conspiracy theory. Careful researchers would have picked up the Australian connections and their support for Anning and Dutton very early. The new white separatist party got close to half a million votes in the recent election and all States concerned with conflict and refugees need to watch developments. The racists – whites as well as Malema’s supporters, will find other platforms, but thanks to Ardern a valuable resource for researchers no longer exists.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  13th May 2019

      Rubbish. Bona fide reaschers are excluded from the laws about the recented banned material, if that’s what you are on about….it’s not clear that you understand your own points

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  13th May 2019

        Didn’t you read? “Taken down by Facebook”

        Reply
      • harryk

         /  13th May 2019

        ‘recented banned material’

        The point is – Bona Fide researchers can no longer access it for research because it’s banned. That particular account was invaluable for following the network between RSA racism and Australian racists, how they lobbied, how their protests were targeted and to whom, and assessing their success or otherwise. You may remember Dutton responded to their campaign by declaring he’d support a new class of visa for white South African farmers, angering the RSA Govt in the process. That Facebook account was providing advice to white farmers on how to apply for such an imaginary Australian visa. Dutton’s been very silent about his white farmers’ visa during the current election campaign. Perhaps it wasn’t quite the vote winner he’d imagined.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  14th May 2019

          those sites would have closed themselves anyway even if Facebook hadnt stepped in , very common for them to remove sites directly associated with terrorists.
          Anyway Im not so sure you would be a bonfide researcher and are more like after the fact chronicler.

          ” Dutton’s been very silent about his white farmers’ visa during the current election campaign”
          two things …Scomo is running the show and doesnt want those negative people who busted Turnbull around
          plus White farmers stuff is just a fund raising issue they can make noise on in return for bucks.

          Reply
          • harryk

             /  14th May 2019

            ‘those sites would have closed themselves anyway’

            Duker. Nonsense. It was a mainstream site and the white separatist party they supported and promoted is mainstream. That sort of racism is mainstream in RSA – half a million white votes, 10 seats in Parliament. It was an important resource. They broke stories of International relevance. They lobbied the White House and got a positive response from Trump. When the list was leaked of farms the ANC Govt intended to nationalise without compensation, supposedly to give to landless ethnic Africans, the first farms on the list were shown to properties on the Limpopo used for hunting safaris not ag production. Further research revealed that an Australian miner had long coveted coal deposits there but had been rejected. These sort of details are a golden headsup for journos. The Australian and SA mining industries are joined at the hip, huge investments in sub Saharan Africa. One AOZ owned graphite resource in Mozambique is the key to helping the Govt out of sovereign debt, when Muslim terrorists began attacks there last year the effects were felt in SA and OZ. FiveEyes nations have special forces doing scoping ops in East Africa such is the concern.

            The farm violence issue was used by Anning to gain his initial public profile. It became such a mainstream issue here that even the ABC did a doco on it, not quite succeeding in countering suspicions that at least some of the farm muders are racially motivated. The site moderator never censored the racist commenters, who included some from OZ and NZ. I presume that like me, you wouldn’t want racist/white supremacist South Africans getting refugee visas to NZ or Oz. Many are already here. Just go to the cricket in Perth and hear them abuse the non whites in the SA team.

            ‘after the fact chronicler’

            That’s for journalism and historians. Done well it can inform the public, and if you’re lucky, policy. Those interested in real time actionable intelligence whether for international investors or security can and do get a valuable headsup or investigative lead from sites like the late lamented LFWSA. It was a compendium of the worst. Prior to the internet there was always a Secretary in High Commissions who monitored obscure, regional and hard to obtain newspapers. It was known as Remote Reporting – open source but a distinct third category of intelligence after the overt and covert streams. With contemporary internet and social media it’s expanded to the point where some are suggesting we need a new standalone agency for the task. After your RC into Christchurch just such a development may be among the recommendations.

            Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  13th May 2019

    The idiots are at it again making stupid regulations:
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/112677868/healthy-homes-standards-legislation-signed-off-into-law

    Kitchens and bathrooms have to have extractor fans. Why on earth? We have windows that open and have never needed fans. Far healthier.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  14th May 2019

      Opening windows doesnt ventilate cooking moisture unless there is a cross draught.
      Fans along with rangehoods make sure cooking grease isnt spread around open plan living areas, isnt that good for landlords?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  14th May 2019

        I always have a cross draft. I install floor or wall vents to ensure that. Stupid regulations that require everything to be done in the only way that ignorant bureaucrats thought of harm everyone.

        Reply
  5. I think she’s just keen and excited because Winston is finally letting her lead something.

    Reply
  6. Johnno

     /  14th May 2019

    So why isn’t David Farrar going to Paris but friends of Jacinda including Lizzie Marvelly are?

    Reply
  1. Ardern mastery of detail and engaging on extremist use of social media — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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