Jacinda Ardern welcomes tightening of Facebook rules on hate speech
Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/news/111598755/-

2019-03-28 06:34:08

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for a co-ordinated global effort to tackle online hate speech.

It comes after Facebook announced it would tighten regulations by banning posts, photos and other content that promotes and supports white nationalism and white separatism.

Speaking in Christchurch on Thursday ahead of Friday's remembrance service for the victims of the terror attacks, Ardern applauded the move by the social media giant but said there was more work to do.

Given that Facebook already has rules which ban hate speech, content subject to the new prohibitions should always have fallen within existing guidelines, Ardern said.

"There are lessons to be learned here in Christchurch and we don't want anyone to have to learn those lessons over again."

The Australian government is looking to introduce legislation to penalise social media companies if they do not restrain the spread of extremist material, with Ireland, Germany and others also hoping to bring in measures to reduce harmful content.

Ardern said the proposals reflect the broader international community's view that "more needs to be done to resolve the problem we face while preserving a free, open and secure internet".

She said: "I do believe that New Zealand has a role to play in this debate and in much-needed reform. I'm focused on working collaboratively to find meaningful solutions.

"Ultimately we can all promote good rules locally, but these platforms are global and, I believe, therefore the solutions will need to be too. There is still more work that we can do together, and I include in that those platforms [like Facebook] but also the international community.

"A number of nations have now been making their own individual moves, but I think there would be benefit for there being globally a co-ordinated response."

The Government is now finalising the terms of reference for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the actions by the security agencies ahead of the attacks, the Prime Minister said, and is in "the final stages of narrowing a potential inquiry lead".

Temporary bans on military-style semi-automatic and assault weapons are already in place, and legislation prohibiting their purchase will be introduced next week, the prime minister said.

Ardern will attend Friday's service to remember the 50 people who died and 48 injured when a gunman opened fire on worshippers at the Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Masjid on March 15, the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's history.

Australian premier Scott Morrison, governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove and opposition leader Bill Shorten will be among delegates from 59 countries at the event, the focus of one of Christchurch's largest ever security operations.

Ardern said she and Morrison have been in frequent contact since the terror attack, with Australia providing 85 police staff and victim identification staff. The pair, along with Shorten, will hold bilateral talks after the service.

Leaders from Pacific neighbours Tonga, Samoa, French Polynesia and Tokelau will also attend the service, along with representatives from the UN and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.

Ardern said the country was "very grateful" for the international community's support and messages of solidarity since the attacks.

"This is an event that has affected New Zealand deeply, but it was our Muslim New Zealanders who were targeted in this act of hatred," she said. "Rightly so, that will be reflected in the remembrance service."

Prince William will visit Christchurch in late April to honour the "extraordinary compassion and solidarity" shown by Kiwis in recent weeks, and Ardern said there was a "close relationship" between William and the city following the earthquakes.

The Prime Minister said the country is now on "the beginning of a journey".

"We have never been free of racism, we have never been free of violent ideology, but our overriding values are ones of fairness, compassion and diversity," she said.

"Government is not the only ones who have a role to play in ensuring that these values are upheld.

"I don't have all of the answers now, but I am committed to finding them."

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