Content moderators work at a Facebook office in Austin, Texas on March 5, 2019. (Photo for The Washington Post by Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Facebook limits livestreaming ahead of tech summit in Paris

Facebook investing $7.5 million in new research partnerships to improve image and video analysis

Facebook toughened its livestreaming policies Wednesday as it prepared to huddle with world leaders and other tech CEOs in Paris to find ways to keep social media from being used to spread hate, organize extremist groups and broadcast terror attacks.

Facebook’s move came hours before its executives would face the prime minister of New Zealand, where an attacker killed 51 people in March — and livestreamed parts of it on Facebook.

The CEOs and world leaders will try to agree on guidelines they will call the “Christchurch Call,” named after the New Zealand city where the attack on a mosque took place.

Facebook said it’s tightening the rules for its livestreaming service with a “one strike” policy applied to a broader range of offences. Activity on the social network that violates its policies, such as sharing a terrorist group’s statement without providing context, will result in the user immediately being temporarily blocked. The most serious offences will result in a permanent ban.

Previously, the company took down posts that breached its community standards but only blocked users after repeated offences.

READ MORE: Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes says time to break up company

The tougher restrictions will be gradually extended to other areas of the platform, starting with preventing users from creating Facebook ads.

Facebook said it’s also investing $7.5 million in new research partnerships to improve image and video analysis technology aimed at finding content manipulated through editing to avoid detection by its automated systems — a problem the company encountered following the Christchurch shooting.

“Tackling these threats also requires technical innovation to stay ahead of the type of adversarial media manipulation we saw after Christchurch,” Facebook’s vice-president of integrity, Guy Rosen, said in a blog post.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern welcomed Facebook’s pledge. She said she herself inadvertently saw the Christchurch attacker’s video when it played automatically in her Facebook feed.

“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,” she said in a statement.

Ardern is playing a central role in the Paris meetings, which she called a significant “starting point” for changes in government and tech industry policy.

Twitter, Google, Microsoft and several other companies are also taking part, along with the leaders of Britain, France, Canada, Ireland, Senegal, Indonesia, Jordan and the European Union.

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, a member of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told reporters, “I think everybody agrees that a higher level of responsibility is demanded from all of the platforms … I mean there still are videos of shootings available on the net. That’s inexcusable, simply unacceptable.”

“What you have to work out is a way to guarantee you’re not censoring legitimate discussion. And it’s a hard line to draw sometimes,” Kerry said.

The “Christchurch Call” is being discussed as over 80 CEOs and executives from technology companies gather in Paris for a “Tech for Good” conference meant to address how they can use their global influence for public good — for example by promoting gender equality, diversity in hiring and greater access to technology for lower income users.

Officials at Facebook said they support the idea of the Christchurch guidelines, but that details need to be worked out that are acceptable for all parties. Free speech advocates and some in the tech industry bristle at new restrictions and argue that violent extremism is a societal problem that the tech world can’t solve.

Ardern and the host, French President Emmanuel Macron, insist that it must involve joint efforts between governments and tech giants. France has been hit by repeated Islamic extremist attacks by groups who recruited and shared violent images on social networks.

Speaking ahead of the meetings, Ardern said, “There will be of course those who will be pushing to make sure that they maintain the commercial sensitivity. We don’t need to know their trade secrets, but we do need to know what the impacts might be on our societies around algorithm use.”

She stressed the importance of tackling “coded language” that extremists use to avoid detection.

Before the Christchurch attack, she said, governments took a “traditional approach to terrorism that would not necessarily have picked up the form of terrorism that New Zealand experienced on the 15th of March, and that was white supremacy.”

Angela Charlton in Paris and Kelvin Chan in London contributed to this report.

Sylvie Corbet And Masha MacPherson, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP seek public’s help in identifying suspects responsible for keying cars in Castlegar

At least three cars have been keyed in north Castlegar in the last 24 hours

Young farmers find a home through land-matching program

Young Agrarians links would-be farmers with landowners who have land to spare

Morning start: A history of the Arrow Lakes

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Wednesday, May 27

Castlegar residents can now report minor crimes to RCMP online

New reporting tool available for Castlegar, Robson, Ootischenia, Thrums, Deer Park, Glade, Tarrys

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Most Read