Tech giants Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter joined 17 national governments and the European Union in signing up for the Christchurch Call to Action, which is aimed at taking the necessary steps to eliminate online terrorist and violent extreme content.
The initiative was revealed at a meeting in Paris, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The U.S. was not one of those 17 countries, with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy saying in a statement that while it supports the overall goals of the Christchurch Call to Action, it is not currently in a position to join the endorsement.
Saying that it continues to be proactive in its efforts to counter online terrorist content while maintaining freedom of expression and freedom of the press, the government organization said, “We will continue to engage governments, industry and civil society to counter terrorist content on the Internet. 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. We encourage technology companies to enforce their terms of service and community standards that forbid the use of their platforms for terrorist purposes.”
The Christchurch Call to Action is a nine-point plan made up of five individual actions by online content-sharing providers and four collaborative actions.
The five individual actions are:
- Establishing methods for users to flag or report inappropriate content and ensuring that those reporting mechanisms are “clear, conspicuous and easy to use,” and that they enable service providers to prioritize and act promptly when they are notified about terrorist and violent extremist content.
- Continued investment in technology that improves the capability to detect and remove terrorist and violent extremist content, including digital fingerprinting and artificial intelligence.
- A focus on livestreaming, possibly including enhanced vetting measures such as ratings or scores, account activity or validation processes, as well as potential moderation of certain livestreaming events, when appropriate. “Checks on livestreaming necessarily will be tailored to the context of specific livestreaming services, including the type of audience, the nature or character of the livestreaming service and the likelihood of exploitation.”
- Publishing transparency reports on the detection and removal of terrorist or violent extremist content on a regular basis and ensuring that the data contained in those reports is supported by a “reasonable and explainable methodology.”
And the four collaborative actions are:
- Working collaboratively across the industry, governments, educational institutions and nongovernmental organizations to better understand the context in which terrorist and violent extremist content is published, and to improve detection technology. Steps include: creating robust data sets to accelerate machine learning and AI, and sharing insights and learnings from that data; developing open-source or other shared detection tools; and enabling all companies to contribute to the effort and reap its benefits.
- Creating a protocol across all of those organizations to quickly respond to emerging or active events and efficiently share relevant information, including the establishment of incident management teams.
- Educating the public about terrorist and extremist violent content online, including how to report it and how to ensure that it doesn’t spread.
- Greater support for research on the root causes and impact of extremism and hate, and “supporting capacity and capability of NGOs working to challenge hate and promote pluralism and respect online.”
The five participating tech companies issued the following statement: “Terrorism and violent extremism are complex societal problems that require an all-of-society response. For our part, the commitments we are making today will further strengthen the partnership that governments, society and the technology industry must have to address this threat.”