YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft test terror scenarios in Wellington


Social media companies are better placed to respond quickly to terrorist attacks with "online implications" than they were in March, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

VINCENT YU/AP

Social media companies are better placed to respond quickly to terrorist attacks with “online implications” than they were in March, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Representatives from social media giants are gathering in Wellington on Tuesday to simulate how they might respond to the online fall-out from atrocities similar to the Christchurch mosque murders.

Technology companies including Google’s YouTube, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, and government officials, are participating in a series of workshops that will take place behind closed doors over two days, to work through a number of fictional scenarios.

The internet giants struggled in March, and later, to prevent footage of the Christchurch shootings from being repeatedly re-uploaded to their platforms, including by extremist sympathisers.

In many cases, video files depicting the shootings were tweeked – for example by editing their video, audio and length – to evade automated blocks that the companies attempted to place on their upload.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the workshops aimed to refine and strengthen the response to terrorist attacks that had online implications.

About 120 representatives are attending the social media workshops in Wellington, which are taking place behind closed doors.

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER/STUFF

About 120 representatives are attending the social media workshops in Wellington, which are taking place behind closed doors.

“Social media was used in an unprecedented way as a tool to promote an act of terrorism and hate.

“We are working together to ensure that doesn’t happen again,” she said.

The workshops have been organised by the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, which was founded by the four technology businesses in 2017 and which was beefed up following the Christchurch shootings, and will test a Shared Crisis Response Protocol.

GOUVERNMENT DE LA REPUBLIQUE FRANCAISE

Jacinda Ardern urged tech leaders to take more responsibility during her speech at the Christchurch Call summit in Paris. (Video first published on May 16, 2019)

More recent signatories include Pinterest and DropBox.

Ardern said social media companies were better equipped than they were in March to respond in a fast and coordinated way.

“This workshop is about ensuring the Crisis Response Protocol is an effective tool that will help prevent social media being used again in the way it was on March 15,” she said.

About 120 attendees from 16 countries are present at the workshops, which have been funded by YouTube.

The workshops were not open to the media.

Facebook has previously indicated it would be reluctant to make public the technical details of the techniques it could use to identify edited videos, as that information would aid those attempting to evade such blocks.  

Google spokeswoman Carrie Jones said details of the terror scenarios the workshops would run through were also not being disclosed.



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