WH Refuses To Sign Post-Christchurch Agreement To Crack Down On Hate Speech

(From L) Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May., Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Senegal's President Macky Sall, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, French President Emmanuel Macron, King Abdullah II of... (From L) Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May., Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Senegal's President Macky Sall, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, French President Emmanuel Macron, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Indonesia's vice-President Jusuf Kalla, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President France's National Digital Council Salwa Toko and State Secretary for the Digital Economy of France Cedric O attend a launching ceremony for the 'Christchurch call', an initiative pushed by Ardern after a self-described white supremacist gunned down 51 people in a massacre at two mosques in the New Zealand city in March, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on May 15, 2019. - French President and New Zealand's premier host other world leaders and leading tech chiefs to launch an ambitious new initiative aimed at curbing extremism online. The political meeting will run in parallel to an initiative launched by Macron called Tech for Good which will bring together 80 tech chiefs in Paris to find a way for new technologies to work for the common good. (Photo by CHARLES PLATIAU / X00217 / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHARLES PLATIAU/AFP/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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May 15, 2019 12:53 p.m.

The White House won’t be signing an international agreement brokered on Wednesday to crack down on the kind of extremist content online that contributed to the New Zealand mosque massacres in March.

The “Christchurch call to action” is an anti-extremism initiative headed by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron. It’s a global push for major tech companies and governments worldwide to prevent the spread of internet hate content, which leads to radicalization and, in the case of the Christchurch mosque shootings, mass violence.

The White House told the Washington Post that it’s “not currently in a position to join the endorsement.”

“We continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content online while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” the White House said. “Further, we maintain that the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech, and thus we emphasize the importance of promoting credible, alternative narratives as the primary means by which we can defeat terrorist messaging.”

“Freedom of the press” is an eyebrow-raising reason for the White House to cite, considering President Donald Trump’s constant rants against “fake news” media and the fact that the White House recently slapped new restrictions on press access.

Leaders from Australia, Canada, and the U.K are planning to sign the agreement, along with tech giants Facebook and Google.

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