Jacinda Ardern in Paris on the Christchurch Call

Stuff: PM tells tech companies they must take on more responsibility

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has directly asked tech companies to take on more responsibility for the way their platforms are used.

Ardern made an address at the Chirstchurch Call summit in Paris to seven world leaders and several leaders from the tech world.

The Prime Minister said she stood before the gathered leaders “with the 51 lives lost in New Zealand heavy on my mind.”

Ardern said that the attack had been specifically designed go viral online.

“The sheer scale of its reach was staggering. It’s hard to quantify the harm this caused. But the fact it caused harm is unquestionable. Thousands of New Zealanders called our nationwide mental health support line saying the video was causing them distress.”

She directly asked that the tech companies present – including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft – to treat the problem as seriously as possible, as their huge size gave them a lot of responsibility.

“I know that none of you want your platforms to perpetuate and amplify terrorism and extremist violence. But these platforms have grown at such pace, with such popularity, that we are all now dealing with consequences you may not have imagined when your company was just a start-up. Your scale and influence brings a burden of responsibility.

“I know what we are doing isn’t simple, and that our goal – of eliminating the upload of this kind of content is ambitious – but it is also necessary.”

“We ask that you assess how your algorithms funnel people to extremist content and make transparent that work.”

“Some of this is already under way. But we need to see the progress you are making. We are asking you to report regularly in a verifiable and measurable way.”

A Christchurch Call agreement has now been signed by 17 Governments and a number of the major tech companies. The US has endorsed but not signed it.

See Tech companies, 17 Governments sign up to ‘Christchurch Call’