Progress Continues for the Christchurch Call to Action

Progress Continues for the Christchurch Call to Action
14 May 2021 GIFCT
In News

Two years ago, GIFCT’s four founding companies – Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube – along with GIFCT member Amazon, signed the nine-point action plan to the Christchurch Call to Action. A major multilateral milestone, this critical step was convened by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and President Emmanuel Macron, with the stated aim of jointly combating terrorism and violent extremism online. Since then, institutionalizing the spirit of the Call, GIFCT has established its operations and staff as an independent organization and grown its membership to 17 technology companies. We’ve strengthened the collective capacity to respond to terrorist and violent extremist incidents with online implications, and continued to convene tech, government and civil society on specific issues tied to terrorism and violent extremism, while funding cutting-edge research.

At the 2019 United Nations General Assembly, we announced that GIFCT would become an independent organization. We are proud to join today’s second anniversary of the Christchurch Call to Action as an independent organization led by our inaugural Executive Director, Nicholas Rasmussen, and our staff of technology and counterterrorism experts. Together with our member companies, and the GIFCT Independent Advisory Committee, we remain steadfast in our efforts to fulfill the commitments of the nine-point action plan, guided by our mission to prevent terrorist and violent extremist exploitation of digital platforms.

The five individual actions within the Call’s nine-point action plan and GIFCT’s membership requirements recognize that, while no two digital platforms and their internal operations are the same, each can make certain commitments to advance our collective goal. By fulfilling GIFCT’s membership requirements, each of our 17 member companies demonstrate their commitment not only to explicitly prohibiting the promotion of terrorism and their capacity to act on reports of this activity, but also to transparency and upholding human rights. In partnership with Tech Against Terrorism who offers mentorship and guidance to prospective member companies, GIFCT and its members are advancing our abilities to combat terrorism and violent extremism while ensuring that stakeholders can follow our work and how we are meeting our pledge to respect fundamental rights and privacy. Last month, we launched the GIFCT Member Resource Guide so that information is readily available about how each company fulfills its membership requirements and contributes to the fight against terrorism and violent extremism online.

A key focus against the Call’s collaborative actions for tech, and a strategic pillar of GIFCT’s operations, is designing GIFCT’s Incident Response Framework. This Framework enables us to rapidly share information across GIFCT member companies in the event of a terrorist or violent extremist attack so that each member can quickly enforce its respective policies and terms of services against online material produced by the perpetrators. Following the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019 and in line with our commitments to the Christchurch Call, we developed the Content Incident Protocol (CIP) to specifically respond to when recorded video or a livestream is shared on a member platform depicting the violence of an attack. 

Since then, we’ve crystallized the four objective criteria that guide when a CIP is declared, focusing particularly the final requirement on the existence of the video content on a member platform, rather than basing it on the content’s virality. In line with our mission of prevention, we want to counter attempts to spread this content the moment we see its first sign. And by building out a more robust Incident Response Framework beyond only video and live-streamed content, we can facilitate information-sharing amongst member companies and establish procedures to respond to other forms of online materials shared by the perpetrators and accomplices of a terrorist or violent extremist attack as well. We’ve responded to over 140 incidents since 2019 with member companies sharing information and situational awareness to understand if an attack has a particular online dimension. We continue to assess our framework both on a regular basis and after a specific incident, and are grateful for the input and lessons shared by our partners and stakeholders so we can continue to strengthen our response to ever more sophisticated attempts to exploit platforms as part of a horrific attack.

We are also proud to enable progress against the Call’s other three collaborative actions through our hash-sharing database, our Working Groups, the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) and the development of the Campaign Toolkit in partnership with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). Through our hash-sharing database and our most recent efforts to pilot ways for URL sharing, our members are able to share information about identified terrorist content in order to help other members detect whether the content exists on their platforms and take appropriate action in line with their individual policies. We also host a Technical Approaches Working Group to support how companies, particularly smaller ones, develop and adopt technical solutions to prevent and disrupt the spread of terrorist content online while continuing to assess these approaches against human rights concerns. 

Our work to develop resources to combat radicalization, advance cutting-edge research, and make this information broadly available are vital efforts to fulfilling GIFCT’s mission and the commitments of the Christchurch Call to Action. We developed the Campaign Toolkit in partnership with ISD as a dynamic digital resource for educating, enabling, and empowering the next generation of activists and community organizations as they mobilize to challenge the complex drivers of violent extremism within their communities and to promote social cohesion, inclusion and tolerance. GIFCT has also consistently supported the action-oriented research of academics studying extremism online. Our academic partner, GNET, continues to produce a wide range of global insights about how violent extremists shift their behaviors online and current trends on the nexus between terrorism and technology.

Today, we once again applaud and express our gratitude to the conveners and signatories of the Christchurch Call to Action on the progress made in its first two years and the work plans for the coming year. These work plans focus on signatories continuing to grow the Call’s community, strengthening crisis response protocols, understanding a range of algorithms and positive interventions online, and enhancing transparency, all while upholding commitments to fundamental human rights and freedoms. GIFCT looks forward to supporting this work, which very much aligns with our own mission and our efforts to grow our membership, progress member company solutions and transparency, and further collective, multi stakeholder goals.

Please find the video recording of GIFCT’s inaugural Executive Director Nicholas Rasmussen’s remarks during the Christchurch Call 2nd Anniversary Leaders’ Summit here –