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NZ 'has a major role' to play globally if Jacinda Ardern is willing to come down hard on Facebook - expert

An advertising expert has urged the Prime Minister to come down hard on Facebook, pushing for new regulations, in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attacks.

Commercial Communications Council Chief Executive Paul Head commended Jacinda Ardern on her swift action on gun control, but "to date there has been no meaningful action to stop the live streaming of a similar event on Facebook", he told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

The Commercial Communications Council and Association of New Zealand Advertisers have written jointly to the Prime Minister asking for something to be done.

"I think, given the profile the Prime Minister has established globally and the sense that she is being listened to by global leaders, New Zealand has a major role and an opportunity to start to build a global discussion around what kind of social media environment we want," Mr Head said.

Social media companies have argued they're not publishers, subject to the same rules as traditional media companies. Instead they have maintained, they are simply a pipeline for content.

"That's given them an out," Mr Head said. "The first thing regulation needs to do is clearly establish the principle that social media platforms are publishers, therefore they are accountable for the content. 

"There also needs to be some pretty significant sanctions put in place for very serious breaches of the standards that are set."

The Government should move just as quickly on issues "around live streaming and violent and harmful content" as it has on the firearms ban, he argued. 

After an initial boycott, a number of companies are now resuming advertising on the likes of Facebook and Google. Many withdrew advertising after the alleged gunman streamed the attack online. But four weeks on, commercial reality is setting in, Mr Head said.

"These platforms are powerful advertising mediums and they work," he explained. "At some point advertisers have to say it’s time to go back, we’ve made our stand.

“Ultimately, social media is a really valuable platform for advertising. What we want to do is make sure it's safe, and it's sustainable."

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Paul Head of the Commercial Communications Council says there's also a group holding out for "more action" from Facebook in particular. Source: 1 NEWS

 

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Commercial Communications Council Chief Executive Paul Head told Breakfast nothing has been done so far. Source: Breakfast