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White House Refuses to Sign International Agreement on Online Extremism
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The White House issued a statement saying, “The United States stands with the international community in condemning terrorist and violent extremist content online in the strongest terms.” However, it stopped short of joining the ranks of several allied countries in taking a pledge to combat online extremism, which typically leads to the radicalization of more extremists.
Citing First Amendment concerns, the U.S. government said that it was instead “fighting for free speech online” and that it is “continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”
The international agreement, spearheaded by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron, has been signed by the UK, Japan, Australia, Italy, Germany, India and Spain as well. Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube endorsed the agreement, which “commits signatories to counter the drivers of terrorism and put in place specific measures to prevent the uploading of terrorist content,” according to Ardern.
The tech giants behind the agreement also announced their own plans to combat online extremism. Facebook itself said that it would implement new rules around live-streaming – largely in response to the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shooting in March 2019 that killed 42 people and was broadcast live on the social media network. The agreement has been named The Christchurch Call after the incident.
Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft issued a joint statement on May 15 that said, “The terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March were a horrifying tragedy. And so it is right that we come together, resolute in our commitment to ensure we are doing all we can to fight the hatred and extremism that lead to terrorist violence … 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.”
What Do You Think?
Do you think the U.S. is right to cite concerns about freedom of speech, or do you think the government should’ve signed the Christchurch Call? I’d love for you to share your thoughts on this, so join me on Facebook or on Twitter and chime in!