Briefing

Canada signs pledge to tackle violent and extremist content online; U.S. sits out

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Eighteen countries and eight tech platforms have declared their support for the Christchurch Call to Action. Signatories include New Zealand, France, India and Germany, as well as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Amazon. The statement commits governments to enforce laws against the creation or spread of extremist or terrorist content, consider further regulation of platforms and encourage media outlets to “apply ethical standards” to coverage of attacks. Companies agreed to redirect users away from such content, and “accelerate” R&D on tools that will prevent it from being uploaded, and detect it if it is. (CBC, Washington Post)

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Talking point: The Donald Trump administration cited free-speech concerns for its decision not to sign. Despite its home government’s non-committal stance, Facebook is already acting on the provisions; it announced Tuesday that users who break its “most serious policies” will be temporarily banned from livestreaming, though its action comes two months after the Christchurch attack, which sparked the summit. The agreement is a voluntary pledge, so its provisions may be hard to enforce. More concrete regulation may be coming—the call promises further discussions about harmful online content at the upcoming G7 Summit in France, the G20 and other international forums.