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White House refuses to join ‘Christchurch Call’ on extremism

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Christchurch massacreThe United States and Europe have very different views about speech. While the US is committed to free speech at all costs, the Europeans are more willing to curb speech when it expresses hate or causes harm. That difference of opinion exploded into view again this week with two diametrically opposed responses to the “Christchurch Call.” That’s the name that’s been given to a non-binding agreement a number of nations and companies have signed, pledging to take action against the spread of extremist views on the internet, after the ones that spurred the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand in March.

In that case, the killer published a long, rambling document filled with alleged justifications for his deeds, most of which centered around white-supremacist ideology, and he live-streamed the shooting on Facebook.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has been pushing for the agreement, convening a summit in Paris that included French president Emmanuel Macron, UK prime minister Theresa May and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

“The Christchurch Call to action has a simple premise,” Ardern said. “That tech companies have both enormous power, and enormous responsibility. And so do governments. We each have a role to play in protecting an open, free and secure internet, but this should never be used as a justification for leaving extremism and terrorism unchecked.” Canada, Australia, and the UK signed on, as did Twitter, Facebook, and Google.

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