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Macron and Ardern pledge to eliminate violent content online

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Macron and Ardern pledge to eliminate violent content online
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French president Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime minister Jacinda Ardern have joined forces to fight online extremism, launching the "Christchurch Call," an inter-governmental appeal to put an end to terrorist acts stemming from online radicalisation.

The call comes two months after the deadly terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques in New Zealand on March 15, which was streamed live on Facebook.

"What happened in Christchurch is not only an unacceptable terrorist attack, but it is a transformation once again of the Internet into a crazy propaganda machine that is at the service of the division in our society, of a war of everybody against everybody, a goal that is sought after by far-right terrorists and Islamist terrorists," French president Emmanuel Macron said at a joint press conference with New Zealand Prime minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday.

Eight technology companies, seventeen countries and the EU Commission committed to preventing the spread of violent extremist and terrorist content online.

In a joint statement, five of the companies, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Twitter, called the attacks in Christchurch "a horrifying tragedy."

"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," the companies said in the statement.

The companies also signed on to a nine-point plan of action that includes a commitment to update the companies' terms of use, create more mechanisms for user reporting of violent content, invest in technology for monitoring, better vet livestream content, and publish transparency reports.

They also committed to share data and work with governments and civil society on efforts to combat hate and bigotry.

"The Christchurch call to action and action plan for change is a global response to a tragedy that occurred on the shores of my country but was ultimately felt around the world," New Zealand Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said at the press conference.

"It commits us to action to make our communities safer and it commits us to work together and to collaborate and drive results. But fundamentally it ultimately commits us all to build a more humane internet which cannot be misused by terrorists for their hateful purposes," she added.

In an interview with Euronews Tonight, Paul Fehlinger, deputy executive director of the Internet and Jurisdiction Policy Network said that the mechanisms to implement the call still needed to be defined.

"What this call today shows is that there is an even larger need than ever before for sustained and ongoing collaboration," he said.

Facebook had announced on Tuesday evening that it would begin banning users who don't respect its guidelines around live-streaming events.

"For instance, someone who shares a link to a statement from a terrorist group with no context will now be immediately blocked from using Live for a set period of time," a blog post from social media giant read.

Facebook also announced it will partner with three universities and invest $7.5 million in research to ''improve image and video analysis technology''.

"There is a lot more work to do, but I am pleased Facebook has taken additional steps today and look forward to a long term collaboration to make social media safer by removing terrorist content from it," Ardern said.