Clark stressed that tighter social media controls must be put in place and such platforms should be required to follow a code of conduct.
It’s high time that the world regulated social media – and the Christchurch massacre earlier this year must have served as a wake-up call, former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark has said during her talk in Dubai.
Following the live-streamed mass shooting that killed 51 people in two mosques in New Zealand on March 15, Clark stressed that tighter social media controls must be put in place and such platforms should be required to follow a code of conduct.
“In a small democratic society that values freedom of speech, you have to approach it with care. You would not, for example, be able to broadcast on radio and television a live killing. There are lines you cannot get over,” she told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of her talk at Dubai Future Week on Tuesday.
She said the fact that the ruthless massacre was live-streamed to foster support for supremacist beliefs clearly shows that there is a problem about regulating shocking content on social media – and Clark believes both governments and social media companies can do more.
Her team at the Helen Clark Foundation issued a paper titled Anti-social media: Reducing the spread of harmful content on social media networks.
“We have recommended a form of regulation where you have a statutory duty. Social media companies need to have a code of conduct. There needs to be a statutory regulator that sees to it they follow the code of conduct and standards they have set,” she explained. Clark also recommended penalties if regulations are not followed.
More positive voices needed
During her Dubai Future Week talk, the former prime minister – who was also the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme from 2009 to 2017 – encouraged the Islamic world to make voices of peace and cooperation ring out across the globe.
“I think the tragedy is when a very tiny proportion of people commit horrid acts, which get communicated to the world as associated with people of a particular belief – which is horrible.
“So, the key thing is for voices of peace, cooperation, moderation and living together to be very loud out of the Islamic world,” she said during the session with Thomas Fletcher, visiting professor at NYU, author of the Naked Diplomat and member of the Dubai Future Academy Board of Trustees.
Clark said the Islamic world is “very loud”, considering that it stretches from Morocco to Indonesia and all the way to Kazakhstan, “so positive voices are necessary”.
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