Facebook altering livestream rules after New Zealand mass shooting


On May 15, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron brought together government leaders and representatives of technology companies to announce the "Christchurch Call to Action To Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online".

The White House has claimed it is "not in a position to join the endorsement" despite backing the overarching goal of the pledge.

Ardern's remarks came during a Tuesday interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour in Paris, where she is attending a summit for the "Christchurch Call", a pledge against online extremism, along with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The initiative comes exactly two months after the terrorist attack on worshipers at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which a gunman who professed racist hatred against Muslims and immigrants livestreamed his slaughter of 51 people.

"The Governments, commit to Counter the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism by strengthening the resilience and inclusiveness of our societies to enable them to resist terrorist and violent extremist ideologies, including through education, building media literacy to help counter distorted terrorist and violent extremist narratives, and the fight against inequality", the declaration (Christchurch Call) adopted.

The social media giant, which participated in crafting the new commitments, said earlier Wednesday that it would limit access to its live-streaming feature.

Ahead of the meeting in Paris on Wednesday, the California-based company announced it would ban Facebook Live users who shared extremist content.

Unlike previous official attempts to regulate the internet, "the Christchurch Call is different in that it associates all actors of the internet" including the tech companies themselves, Macron said.

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The statement condemned terrorist and violent extremist content online "in the strongest terms", however, it cited freedom of expression and freedom of the press as reasons it would not be joining the agreement.

What did the tech companies pledge?

Ardern said Facebook removed 1.5 million copies of the video within 24 hours of the attack, but she still found herself among those who inadvertently saw the footage when it auto-played on their social media feeds. Activity on the social network that violates its policies, such as sharing an extremist group's statement without providing context, will result in the user immediately being temporarily blocked.

A comprehensive list of offenses that would see a user barred from Live wasn't included, although the examples used all had to do with circulating terrorist-related content. She said that New Zealanders mostly agree with the new legislation.

The policy will expand to other topics in the coming weeks, and the company says it will stop the same offenders from purchasing ads.

Facebook VP of Integrity Guy Rosen said that up to this point, those who posted content that violated their community standards would simply have their post taken down.

The Christchurch Call To Action is such a freaking layup.

Beyond Facebook, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism - a trade group formed by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube - has said more than 800 visually distinct videos of the attack have been "fingerprinted" for its automatic ban list.