Net giants angered anti-terror hui attendees over their slow responses to action Islamic take-down requests. Yet Jacinda Ardern refuses to address what the NZ media have revealed was the root cause for the Christchurch shooting that killed 51 people in March 2019, nor have they scrubbed Islamic sites of the propaganda that triggered Tarrant to target NZ.
Foundation against Islamophobia and Racism’s Valerie Morse demands action from social media companies in the battle against extremism at the counter-terrorism hui in Christchurch.
Anger at an anti-terrorism hui over the inaction of internet giants appears to have resulted in a neo-Nazi Twitter account being disabled minutes after it was reported by a member of the public.
Twitter and Facebook panellists were questioned about their failure to stamp out online extremism on the second day of the He Whenua Taurikura anti-terrorism hui in Christchurch on Wednesday.
Attendees told Stuff of their concerns about a lack of Muslim voices in the talks. An early morning session on the last day – ‘What hate feels like now’, hosted by the Islamic Women’s Council – was added as an afterthought.
Foundation Against Islamophobia and Racism’s Valerie Morse asked Twitter senior director Nick Pickles, who spoke via video link, what he was going to do about the “657 followers of New Zealand’s largest neo-Nazi group” still on Twitter.
She named the group and demanded the social media platform take it down immediately.
Morse later told Stuff the group was removed from Facebook and members prevented from creating any new pages, but the group restarted on Twitter – careful not to breach terms and conditions – after initially being kicked off.
Pickles said the company would “get that looked at”.
It appeared the neo-Nazi group, which Stuffhas chosen not to name, had been disabled from Twitter since the talk on Wednesday morning.
Morse said she questioned what Twitter and the Government would do when the group reappeared on the platform, since Twitter did not ban the logos and members in the same way Facebook did.
“We shouldn’t need to attend a government hui to get Twitter accounts taken down.”
The social media organisations came under fire by many at the hui, including one man who said they needed to “buck up your ideas” and stop being like cigarette or arms companies.
Islamic Women’s Council’s Anjum Rahman opened her talk with a screenshot taken from a livestream of the Christchurch terror attack.
Some 1.5 million copies were taken down by Facebook in the first 24 hours after the attack, but it was still available online, she said.
“Psychological harm is a form of violence.”
She called for a statutory independent body to be in charge of taking down online content, rather than the Government.
She said areas to work on included the involvement of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in New Zealand, understanding the complexities of communities, and understanding algorithms.
Facebook’s Nawab Osman said more than 99.6 per cent of terrorism content was proactively removed “before any form of reporting”.
“What we’re seeing online is a reflection of real-world ideas festering within communities.”
Pickles said internet moderation was not going to solve the problem alone.
The University of Otago’s Sanjana Hattotuwa said New Zealand’s isolation was not going to save it from future risks.
“This is not recent. It’s systemic. The enemies are going to come from within us.”
Islamic Women’s Council national coordinator Aliya Danseisen said she expected more from the hui, and wanted to see “progress” before next year’s event.
She was one of many attendees who said there had not been enough involvement of Muslim voices, particularly in the community most directly affected by the March 15 terrorist attack.
“Diversity wasn’t in it.”
Danseisen said she regularly received “vicious” online threats, particularly from posters who were savvy in hiding their identity.
“My message for anyone suffering [online threats] is be proactive.”