Helen Clark Foundation report: Harmful Content on Social Networks

Helen Clark backs Jacinda Ardern’s Christchurch call: ‘All key players should be there’

Former prime minister Helen Clark says those who aren’t attending the “incredibly important” Christchurch call meeting in Paris are saying more about themselves than the summit itself.

Speaking to Stuff ahead of releasing a report on reducing social media harm from her new think tank, Clark said the call was a “huge deal” and “all the key players should be there”.

“I think this says more about the people who are not going than the call itself. It’s an incredibly important call and why would those people not be there. That’s what will get the interest,” Clark said.

She said getting an issue like this on the table at a G7 meeting was “unprecedented” for New Zealand and praised Ardern for carrying on momentum.

“I think that New Zealand is going to be defined not the by the horrific attack itself, but he way she has responded. New Zealand is making a significant statement about who it is and what needs to be done locally and globally.”

The Helen Clark Foundation report key recommendation:

We recommend a legislative response is necessary to address the spread of terrorist and harmful content online. This is because ultimately there is a profit motive for social media companies to spread ‘high engagement’ content even when it is offensive, and a long standing laissez faire culture inside the companies concerned which is resistant to regulation.


Harmful Content on Social Networks

Executive Summary

Anti-social media: reducing the spread of harmful content on social media networks

  • In the wake of the March 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack, which was livestreamed in an explicit attempt to foster support for white supremacist beliefs, it is clear that there is a problem with regard to regulating and moderating abhorrent content on social media. Both governments and social media companies could do more.
  • Our paper discusses the following issues in relation to what we can do to address this in a New Zealand context; touching on what content contributes to terrorist attacks, the legal status of that content, the moderation or policing of communities that give rise to it, the technical capacities of companies and police to
    identify and prevent the spread of that content, and where the responsibilities for all of this fall – with government, police, social media companies and individuals.
  • We recommend that the New Zealand Law Commission carry out a review of laws governing social media in New Zealand. To date, this issue is being addressed in a piecemeal fashion by an array of government agencies, including the Privacy Commission, the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Internal Affairs, and Netsafe.
  • Our initial analysis (which does not claim to be exhaustive) argues that while New Zealand has several laws in place to protect against the online distribution of harmful and objectionable content, there are significant gaps. These relate both to the regulation of social media companies and their legal obligations to reduce
    harm on their platforms and also the extent to which New Zealand law protects against hate speech based on religious beliefs and hate motivated crimes.
  • The establishment of the Royal Commission into the attack on the Christchurch Mosques on 15 March 2019 (the Royal Commission) will cover the use of social media by the attacker. However the Government has directed the Royal Commission not to inquire into, determine, or report in an interim or final way on issues related to social media
  • platforms, as per the terms of reference.As a result, we believe that this issue – of social media platforms – remains outstanding, and in need of a coordinated response. Our paper is an initial attempt to scope out what this work could cover.
  • In the meantime, we recommend that the Government meet with social media companies operating in New Zealand to agree on an interim Code of Conduct, which outlines key commitments from social media companies on what actions they will take now to ensure the spread of terrorist and other harmful content is caught quickly and its further dissemination is cut short in the future. Limiting access to the livestream feature is one consideration, if harmful content can genuinely not be detected.
  • We support the New Zealand Government’s championing of the issue of social media governance at the global level, and support the ‘Christchurch Call’ pledge to provide a clear and consistent framework to address the spread of terrorist and extremist content online.

Helen Clark was interviewed about this on Q&A last night.

 

28 Comments

    • Ray

       /  14th May 2019

      Helen Clark, PM for 9 long years, recipient of a considerable amount of tax free money while at the UN, now feels her Foundation ( which enjoys a tax free status and employs amongst others her husband and various friends) now thinks she has another bully pulpit to lecture us all.
      Frankly she can f***k off.
      Time for the next generation.

      • Blazer

         /  14th May 2019

        inclined to agree with you here Ray.

      • Duker

         /  14th May 2019

        Trustees are ‘officers’, not employees of the HCF

    • adamsmith1922

       /  14th May 2019

      Who will monitor the regulators? Why should we trust politicians? Effectively much will be driven underground. The Chinese government will no doubt laughing as the West seeks to control what people see,hear and think.

  1. NOEL

     /  14th May 2019

    “causing or likely to cause harm.”
    “arousing distaste or opposition; unpleasant or offensive.”

    Hmmmmmmmm
    .

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  14th May 2019

    Disgusting. Clark will destroy her reputation with this crap.

    • Duker

       /  14th May 2019

      Have you heard of cows….oops I mean heard of broadcasting stndards which regulates TV radio or Advertising Stndards does the same with ads, but is a voluntary membership. Then the office of film and literature classification does exactly that …and bans some stuff as well

      Has the stalinist heel you have lived under for the past 50 years crushed your free speech.?

      Or in reality it’s nothing of the sort and you have raised empty argue ments with no factual basis.

  3. adamsmith1922

     /  14th May 2019

    Another day and another voice seeking to silence free speech . Be afraid,be very afraid.

    • Blazer

       /  14th May 2019

      if you want to see the destruction of free speech…a case study…Thatchers great friend Pinochet and his Friedman cronies in the brutality in…Chile.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  14th May 2019

        This is hardly in that category.

        What is to be gained by allowing terrorists and hate groups to have open season on general sites like FB ?

        • duperez

           /  14th May 2019

          What is gained is that we get to say, “Ain’t free speech wonderful.” 🙃

          • Duker

             /  14th May 2019

            All other forms of communication in NZ have some form of regulation, including press and news as well as the more well known broadcasting, advertising and films and literature.
            It’s been supported by major political parties.
            Why is online social media so special….well it isn’t with harmful digital communications act but the big guys get away with everything

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  14th May 2019

            Oh, silly me 😀

        • harryk

           /  14th May 2019

          ‘What is to be gained by allowing terrorists and hate groups to have open season on general sites like FB’

          Kitty. Sometimes, valuable intelligence. These people will continue to exist, hate and plot regardless. I prefer we maintain the ability to watch them do so in public rather than drive them underground completely.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  14th May 2019

            I’d rather that they were under private surveillance than spewing their bile all over FaceBook and Twitter and the rest.

            The mosque murderer inspired other murders when his were seen online.

            • harryk

               /  14th May 2019

              Not just online Kitty, but when it was covered by the mainstream media everywhere. Mainstream print coverage, not social media, triggered at least one of the suicide attackers in Sri Lanka and a white extremist shooter in the US. Are you suggesting a total worldwide media gag for such events in future? And how would you achieve that?

              Private surveillance or State surveillance? Either may still have failed. Known extremists in the UK have still perpetrated terror, and UK SIS is far more capable and better resourced than either NZ or Oz counterparts. If these people aren’t allowed to spew some bile they may not come to the notice of spooks. Ardern and her sort are dishonestly conflating causation with triggering. New media presents new threats and new intelligence to prevent and counter threats. The public needs to be better educated re media hoaxes, fake news etc not over protected against a technology that will not go away. That would be Luddite. Fnding the right balance won’t be quick nor easy for liberal democracies but we shouldn’t adopt the procedures of non liberal democracies.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  14th May 2019

              I’m glad that I’m not making the decisions about this.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  14th May 2019

              Perhaps report it without (as happened with the latest synagogue shooting) giving the killer’s rants free publicity.

        • Sunny

           /  14th May 2019

          I was surprised in the interview that Helen Clark nor the other interviewee had read the manifesto. There is a lot of focus on facebook. Was the gunman spewing vile on facebook or twitter? I thought it was said he was on 8 chan or something.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  15th May 2019

            I don’t think that one needs to read the ‘manifesto’ word for word; a summary would do and it’s been quoted.

      • Pink David

         /  14th May 2019

        “Pinochet ”

        I raise your Pinochet with a Castro.

        • Blazer

           /  14th May 2019

          his people ..loved him.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  14th May 2019

            So did Stalin’s people (well, many of them)

            I knew some old Russians who still, in some way, felt nostalgia for the old days with Uncle Joe. These were people who’d fled Russia, Orthodox believers, yet they still felt like that.

            There was a spy in that church ; there usually was. Someone who would report back what they heard. I believe that it was often/usually someone over whom the USSR government had a hold. In this church it was old Mrs M, who looked like any old babushka.

            I would have thought that it was impossible to yearn for Stalin’s Russia.

          • Pink David

             /  14th May 2019

            Hitler was also loved by ‘him people’.

  4. oldlaker

     /  15th May 2019

    Neither Clark nor her researcher had read the gunman’s manifesto… How can they be informed on the events that have triggered this whole debate without having knowledge of how they came about?