We can’t solve the Facebook problem alone, NZ advertisers tell PM

By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 12 April 2019

New Zealand advertisers have slammed the inaction from Facebook since the Christchurch attack, and say governments need to step in as pressure from advertisers alone isn’t enough.

The Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA) and the Commercial Communications Council (CCC) expressed their concerns in a joint letter to NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, asking the government to find local regulatory solutions and push for a global response.

“Reaching a satisfactory outcome was never likely to be achieved by advertiser pressure alone,” a statement from the ANZA and CCC reads.

The organisations have been applying pressure on tech giants since the attack which killed 50 people.

In March they called for a global advertising boycott of Facebook until it better regulates its livestreaming service which was used by the Christchurch attacker. The call was swiftly backed by the World Federation of Advertisers.

Earlier this month, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg penned letters to the public inviting governments to regulate it and outlined changes to its livestreaming service.

However, the ANZA and CCC say the response from Facebook has been “belated” and lacked “meaningful change”.

“Nothing has been done by Facebook to ensure the dreadful events such as occurred in Christchurch cannot be live streamed again,” the statement says.

“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.”

They noted Google-owned YouTube made “positive initial steps”, such as restricting their live streaming platform to users with more than 1,000 subscribers.

Others have also come out slamming Zuckerberg’s response, with NZ privacy commissioner John Edwards labelling the company a “morally bankrupt pathological liar”.

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