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Expert calls for independent social media regulator in wake of Christchurch terror attacks

An independent public social media regulator would be a good idea in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks according to an expert.

Fifty people died and dozens more were injured in shooting at two mosques in the city on March 15.

The shooting was streamed live on Facebook by the shooter and subsequent videos of the shooting were widely shared online. Facebook has been criticised for its seeming inability to effectively take down this graphic and disturbing content quickly and effectively.

Dr Peter Thompson, Better Public Media chair, told TVNZ1's Breakfast there's no "silver bullet" for regulation but there are a couple of options to look at.

"We could look at an independent public regulator that could, for example, have the powers to impose fines, possibly remove social media from internet access providers, in extreme cases.  Also possibly vet and in some cases regulate their algorithms so we minimise the possibility of injury to the public interest or causing harm.

"Ultimately I think we have to have the power to remove social media from the internet perhaps for periods as does the Broadcasting Standards Authority in the case of radio and television in extreme cases."

He says social media companies need to show they're committed to the public interest.

"They need to step it up and show they're committed to serving the public interest.  We have to hold them accountable if they're going to make so much money out of the way we use the media as citizens."

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    Dr Peter Thompson talks to Breakfast about what that might look like. Source: Breakfast