Advertisers ask New Zealand Prime Minister to regulate social networks

New Zealand advertisers call for greater regulation of social networks

Advertisers in New Zealand have written to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern and her government to ask it to regulate social networks.

The Commercial Communications Council and Association of New Zealand Advertisers have asked the government on behalf of advertisers to address local concerns and engage internationally around regulation that encourages social networks to be “good corporate actors”.

In a joint statement released today (12 April), the organisations said the call comes after what they see as “inaction’ after the Christchurch attacks.

The organisations, alongside the WFA, released a call to arms for advertisers to call the likes of Facebook to account for allowing live-streams of terror attacks to take place.

Facebook wasn’t able to remove the live footage in time and has said that since then it has had to remove almost 1.5m videos from its platform in relation to the attack. The social networks said it has made some moves towards improving brand safety, by adding new inventory filters against some of its solutions.

However, advertisers in New Zealand believe this isn’t enough and it is time for government intervention.

The unfortunate reality is this. Nothing has been done by Facebook to ensure the dreadful events such as occurred in Christchurch cannot be live streamed again. While the advertising community will continue to apply what pressure it can, we believe that platforms have not demonstrated sufficient integrity over this issue to continue to be allowed to define the rules of content management. Instead, regulators now need to step up to ensure meaningful change does in fact occur. We note that regulators are making steps in this direction in a number of jurisdictions, including the UK and Australia,” it read.

The government in the UK last week said it was going to publish a new whitepaper, which will set out advice for new laws that would make social network executives personally responsible for harmful content on the platform, enforcing a duty of care onto the leadership.

Australia’s government has long been looking at various ways that it can ensure that the large digital media companies are acting fairly on behalf of citizens and business.

The Commercial Communications Council and Association of New Zealand Advertisers did give praise to YouTube for moving quickly around a response to the issues surfaced by the Christchurch attack.

“Some platforms have made positive initial steps in response to what occurred online. For example, Google’s YouTube has put in place stronger account verification standards before live streaming is allowed. This includes raising the threshold for YouTube Live on mobile. Moving forward, to be able to live stream to YouTube on mobile devices, channels need to have at least 1,000 subscribers. These simple initiatives demonstrate that steps can be taken to better protect the community, where there is a will to do so.”

The statement admits that advertiser pressure may not be enough and is calling for collaboration on the next steps.

“Reaching a satisfactory outcome was never likely to be achieved by advertiser pressure alone. It requires regulators, commerce and the community to collectively take action. To this end, we are now encouraging the Government to address the question of appropriate regulation of social media platforms. We believe that New Zealand is uniquely placed to lead what is a rising call for appropriate regulation applied to online platforms. As an industry, we stand ready to work with the government on this issue.”

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