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.