New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that world leaders and tech companies seeking to combat violent extremism online would first consider the social media algorithms that propel content.
Ardern was speaking at a virtual conference to commemorate the second anniversary of the Christchurch Call, a global campaign to end online hate initiated by Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron in 2019 after a white nationalist murdered 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, while live-streaming his rampage on Facebook.
Since then more than 50 countries, international organisations and tech firms have supported the initiative including firms like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft.
“The existence of algorithms themselves is not necessarily the problem, it’s whether or not they are ethically used. That is one of the biggest focus for the community over the next year alongside expanding the network itself,” Ardern said a news conference after the forum.
Ardern said major tech firms expressed a real desire at the forum to use algorithms for positive interventions. She, however, did not elaborate on how firms would change the use of algorithms that drive harmful content and lead to radicalisation.
The United States joined the Christchurch Call for the first time, changing its stance two years after the administration of former President Donald Trump refused to attend, citing fears about free expression.
World leaders such as Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson attended the ceremony.
The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), a non-governmental organisation created by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube that joined the Christchurch Call, reported that progress has been made since 2019.