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The New Zealand Prime Minister says to fight hatred and study social media algorithms

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WELLINGTON, May 14 (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Saturday that global leaders and technology companies that want to root out violent extremism on the internet need to focus on understanding social media algorithms that drive content.

Ardern spoke at a virtual summit to mark the second anniversary of the global initiative to end hate on the Internet, called Christchurch Call, launched in 2019 by Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron after a white racist 51 people in two mosques in New Zealand killed Christchurch city while broadcasting his rampage live on Facebook.

Since then, more than 50 countries, international organizations and technology companies have supported the initiative, including companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft.

“The existence of algorithms themselves is not necessarily the problem, but whether they are used ethically or not. That is one of the biggest focuses of the community in the next year, in addition to the expansion of the network itself,” said Ardern at a press conference after the forum.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern participates in a televised debate with National Leader Judith Collins at TVNZ in Auckland, New Zealand on September 22, 2020. Fiona Goodall / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

Ardern said big tech companies had expressed a real desire at the forum to use algorithms for positive interventions. However, she did not discuss how companies would change the use of algorithms that promote harmful content and lead to radicalization.

The Christchurch Call was first joined by the United States, two years after the rejection of former President Donald Trump’s administration for raising concerns about freedom of expression. Continue reading

The event was attended by world leaders such as Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), an NGO founded by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube that joined the Christchurch Call, said progress had been made since 2019.

The agency has responded to over 140 incidents since 2019, in which member companies exchanged information and situational awareness in order to understand whether an attack had a certain online dimension, according to a separate statement.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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