White House won’t commit to Christchurch Call for stronger measures against online extremist content

The Christchurch shooting resulted in the “Christchurch Call” to better deal with extremist content online, but the White House won’t sign onto it.

For a little more information about the Christchurch Call, it was first introduced this Sunday by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. It’s a commitment that calls for tech platforms and governments to create and enforce stricter laws for removing online extremist content. When a country or platform signs the pledge, they’re agreeing to improve their process for moderating content. It also binds the country and platform to share more information about what they’re doing to keep terrorist content for going viral.

The commitment has already gained a lot of support. Countries like France, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom support the Christchurch Call. On the company side, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft also support the commitment. However, the United States hasn’t signed on to the agreement and it doesn’t look like it will anytime soon.

The White House supports condemning extremist content, but won’t join the commitment

Today, the White House released a statement that it will “stand with the international community in condemning terrorist and extremist content” and even thanked both Ardern and French president Emmanuel Macron. However, the White House went onto say that the US is not “currently in a position to join the endorsement.”

A possible explanation could be that the White House is concerned about the potential risk this commitment could mean for free speech.

“We continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content online while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” the statement reads.”Further, we maintain that the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech, and thus we emphasize the importance of promoting credible, alternative narratives as the primary means by which we can defeat terrorist messaging.”

However, the White House’s decision to not sign onto the non-binding Christchurch Call commitment has been met with harsh criticism.

So, while it doesn’t seem like the US is going to be joining the Christchurch Call, others have already taken action to improve their extremist content regulation. For instance, Facebook recently revealed a one strike policy for Facebook Live.

Image courtesy REUTERS/Charles Platiau/Pool

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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