Jacinda Ardern, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, will lead the nation’s efforts for greater safeguards against terrorist and violent online content. Ardern has been appointed Special Envoy for the Christchurch Call – a global initiative set up by Ardern in the wake of a terror attack in 2019. Under her leadership, the initiative seeks to eliminate the presence of extremist content on the web.
The Christchurch Call to Action is a foreign policy priority of the current New Zealand government, led by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins. Having Ardern at the helm is particularly poignant, given her close identification with the attack on two Christchurch mosques that had left 51 people dead. Ardern stepped in to reform gun laws and her image wearing a headscarf to express solidarity with the victims’ families has moved millions of people around the world.
Ardern’s other contributions have been in collaboration with French President Emmanuel Macron in urging tech giants to curb the proliferation of extremism on the web. Together, they have had many meetings with the representatives of leading social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google to try and address the issue at the source.
With Ardern’s historic connection to the case, her appointment to the Christchurch Call to Action comes as no surprise. Ardern is uniquely placed to keep the momentum going and maintain pressure on big companies through her intricate understanding of the matter and close relationships with tech moguls.
Notably, Ardern has chosen to forego any remuneration for this role, which starts on April 17, 2021. The area of work under the Christchurch Call is extensive, spanning new areas such as the algorithm-fuelled radicalization and the exploitation of AI and augmented reality for terrorist and hate-based purposes.
Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet represent the ‘big three’ of social media and have a crucial role to play in controlling online extremism. In a statement released after the meetings with Ardern and Macron, the tech companies committed themselves to a ‘joint commitment’ to urge governments to update their laws and regulations and to end the ‘abuse of technology’ to spread hate and terrorism.
Interestingly, later in 2021, Ardern will join the Board of Trustees of the Earthshot Prize, founded by Prince William with the ambitious vision of rewarding efforts to combat climate change. She’s expected to be an eminent role model for young people, and setting the bar high in environmental and sustainability goals.
We can only expect to see more inspiring and innovative endeavors from Ardern in her role as Special Envoy of the Christchurch Call to Action, and in the future endeavors lined up with the Earthshot Prize. We wish her the very best in her endeavours.