Morrison Wants Facebook, Google To Block Terror Videos

If Facebook can flash up ads for that pair of shoes you're thinking about buying, social media giants should be able to remove violent, explicit and hateful content.

That's the message from the Prime Minister, who says that given Instagram and Google can target you for ads, they should be using their technology to keep people safer.

“If you can write an algorithm to make sure that the ads they want you to see can appear on your mobile phone, then I am quite confident they can write an algorithm to screen out hate content on social media platforms,” Scott Morrison said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Adelaide on Tuesday. Photo: AAP

Terrorists use publicity to help spark fear, making social media an easy way to spread their hate -- as was seen when the Christchurch massacre was live-streamed. In the wake of the horrific attack, there is now momentum to make sure terrorists’ crimes are not rewarded with clicks and shares.

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“Australia can take action in this area and we’re looking at practical proposals right now,” Morrison said.

“But for those actions to have, I think greater impact on social media companies and technology companies, it has to be done in concert with other big economies.”

The PM has written to world leaders, including Donald Trump and is urging the G20 group of the most powerful countries in the world to put it on the agenda for its upcoming meeting in June in Japan.

Photo: AAP

“I’ve written to Prime Minister Abe, who is the president of G20 this year," Morrison said.

“These social media companies have built this technology.”

“The G20 has worked together to make sure these big companies pay their taxes.”

“I am sure we can work together to make sure they protect our citizens.”

Major banks in New Zealand, including Westpac, have already taken matters into their own hands and have withdrawn advertising from Facebook and Google in response to images of the massacre being shared on those platforms.

Residents pay their respects by placing flowers for the victims of the mosques attacks in Christchurch. Photo: Getty

It comes as telephone companies both in Australia and NZ block their customers from accessing websites where such content is still being shared.

A group of NZ's biggest broadband companies have demanded social media giants to do more to block such content ever appearing.

READ MORE: Optus, Telstra, Vodafone Block Sites Hosting Christchurch Videos

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"We call on Facebook, Twitter and Google, whose platforms carry so much content, to be a part of an urgent discussion at an industry and New Zealand Government level on an enduring solution to this issue," Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees wrote in a long open letter.

"Now is the time for this conversation to be had, and we call on all of you to join us at the table and be part of the solution."

Photo: Getty

But Fergus Hanson from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute warns taking explicit and hateful content down is not as easy as it sounds.

“The challenge they are up against is the huge volume they are dealing with," he said.

“You’ve got for example genuine news organisations posting content that may include snippets from that video, and then you’ve also got would be terrorist supporters doing that.”

“Distinguishing between them as a robot, or a computer is really difficult.”

“What we could do is restrict the power to broadcast, to live stream material, but that goes against some of the principals we really value in a democratic society."

On Tuesday, Facebook again defended its actions in the wake of the terror incident. Chris Sonderby, VP and Deputy General Counsel of the social media giant, defended Facebook's handling of the massacre in a lengthy statement posted online.

"We remain shocked and saddened by this tragedy and are committed to working with leaders in New Zealand, other governments, and across the technology industry to help counter hate speech and the threat of terrorism," he said.

"We continue to work around the clock to prevent this content from appearing on our site, using a combination of technology and people."