World leaders ask tech giants to tackle toxic content with Christchurch Call

On Wednesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will ask tech companies to sign a pledge called the Christchurch Call, as The New York Times previously reported. Digital ministers of the Group of 7 nations are meeting tomorrow to talk about toxic content and tech regulation.

The Christchurch Call is the first result on that work and a way to start involving tech companies with a nonbinding pledge. Named after the recent terrorist attack in Christchurch, the agreement should ask tech platforms to increase their efforts when it comes to blocking toxic content. In other words, democracies don’t want another shooting video going viral and also don’t want to block Facebook, YouTube or Twitter altogether.

According to people working for the French Economy Ministry, the Christchurch Call doesn’t contain any specific recommendations for new regulation. Countries get to decide what they mean by violent and extremist content, for instance.

“For now, it’s a focus on an event in particular that caused an issue for multiple countries,” France Digital Minister Cédric O said in a meeting with a few journalists.

Companies that sign the pledge agree to improve their moderation processes and share more information about the work they’re doing to prevent terrorist content from going viral. On the other side, governments agree to work on laws that ban toxic content from social networks.

Tomorrow, a handful of countries are expected to sign the Christchurch Call. According to French government officials, members of the Group of 7 nations should sign it but the U.S. might not sign it. New Zealand, Norway and a handful of countries that are not part of the Group of 7 nations should also sign the pledge.

After that, it’ll be up to tech companies to side with those governments and say that they have heard their plea. It’s a nonbinding agreement after all, so I’m sure many social networks will see it as gestures of goodwill.

In addition to digital ministers and government officials, the French Economy Ministry says that representatives from Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Snap, Mozilla, Google, Qwant, the Wikimedia Foundation and the Web Foundation will be there on Wednesday.

So you can expect that some, if not all of them, will sign the pledge. The New York Times says that Facebook, Google and Microsoft have already agreed to sign the pledge.