The United States has decided not to support the censorship call by 18 governments and five top American tech firms and declined to endorse a New Zealand-led censorship effort responding to the live-streamed shootings at two Christchurch mosques.
White House officials said free-speech concerns prevented them from formally signing onto the largest campaign to date targeting extremism online.
World leaders, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Jordan's King Abdullah II, signed the Christchurch Call, which was unveiled at a gathering in Paris that had been organized by French
President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The governments pledged to counter online extremism, including through new regulation, and to encourage media outlets to apply ethical standards when depicting terrorist events online.
But the White House opted against endorsing the effort, and President Trump did not join the other leaders in Paris. The White House felt the document could present constitutional concerns, officials there said, potentially conflicting with the
First Amendment. Indeed Trump has previously threatened social media out of concern that it's biased against conservatives.
Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter also signed on to the document, pledging to work more closely with one another and governments to make certain their sites do not become conduits for terrorism. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was among the
attendees at the conference.
The companies agreed to accelerate research and information sharing with governments in the wake of recent terrorist attacks. They said they'd pursue a nine-point plan of technical remedies designed to find and combat objectionable content,
including instituting more user-reporting systems, more refined automatic detection systems, improved vetting of live-streamed videos and more collective development of organized research and technologies the industry could build and share.
The companies also promised to implement appropriate checks on live-streaming, with the aim of ensuring that videos of violent attacks aren't broadcast widely, in real time, online. To that end, Facebook this week announced a new one-strike
policy, in which users who violate its rules -- such as sharing content from known terrorist groups -- could be prohibited from using its live-streaming tools.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has contacted Ukraine's Government after Bellingcat investigative journalists revealed that Brenton Tarrent's manifesto was offered for sale in hardcopies via messengers in Ukraine.
New Zealand has made the request through diplomatic channels. News source MFA Ukraine reports on a response from a Ukrainian diplomat saying that Ukraine is concerned by the emerging reports about the distribution of such material in Ukraine:
We are convinced that there must be no place for racism, neo-Nazism and religious hatred in Ukrainian society.
The diplomats also said that they had already approached the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine with a request to confirm or deny the fact of the distribution of hardcopies of the manifesto translated into Ukrainian.
US social media companies have delayed signing a pledge which aims to combat what the French government deems to be online hate speech. The pledge pushes online service providers to commit to more aggressive censorship and moderation of content
on their platforms.
Europe 1 radio is reporting that President Trump pressured US social media companies to delay signing the pledge saying that France was bullying the companies to join.
The pledge is titled Charter for an Open, Free, and Safe Internet . It expands on the commitments made by social media companies in the immediate aftermath of the New Zealand mosque massacre. Social media companies took down a live stream
of the killings and the killer, Brenton Tarrent's manifesto. New Zealand ISPs blocked websites until such material was removed.
The pledge will widen the scope of the commitments from online service providers related to:
Taking down content
Providing support for victims
France wanted US social media companies to sign this pledge on August 23. However, according to France's junior minister for the digital industry CÚdric O, the signing has been delayed until August 27.
A senior Trump administration official said that the White House is still evaluating the pledge and that the industry wants to water down the initiative.
Commentators suggest that background to the delay may be related to France's plans to introduce a new tax for US social media companies.
New Zealand's government is doubling the funding for its film censors. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is doubling the funding for its Office of Film & Literature Classification so it can crack down on terrorist content
alongside child exploitation images.
The package is the main domestic component of Ardern's more globally-focused Christchurch Call. The Call is a set of pledges and practices she is promoting following the Christchurch terror attack of March 15.
The $17m funding boost will go towards the Chief Censor and the Censorship Compliance Unit and will see about 17 new censors employed.
The announcement came with a bit of a barb though as it was noted that it took two days for the chief censor to rule that the livestream of the Christchurch mosque attack was objectionable, something the officials said could be sped up with new
funding for his office.
Stuff.co.nz commented that the prime minister has invested serious time and political capital into her Christchurch Call program and noted that it met its first real test last week after another racist attack was livestreamed from the German city
of Halle. That video was deemed objectionable by the censor and the shared protocol created by the Christchurch Call was put into action. Presumably this time round it took less than two days to decide that it is should be banned.