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Meta, Google, Twitter, TikTok, Amazon sign first-of-its-kind code in New Zealand, to reduce harmful content

Ishita Srivastava
Ishita SrivastavaJul 25, 2022 | 17:23

Meta, Google, Twitter, TikTok, Amazon sign first-of-its-kind code in New Zealand, to reduce harmful content

Photo: Unsplash

Tech giants Meta, Amazon, Twitter, Google and TikTok have signed the world’s first voluntary code of conduct called the Aotearoa New Zealand Code of Practice for Online Safety and Harms. Under this code, companies will have to make active efforts to reduce harmful content on their New Zealand platforms.

The establishment and administration of the Code will be monitored by NZTech, a group of independent technology associations across New Zealand. The Code was developed by an independent online safety organization, Netsafe.

What is harmful content? Simply, online harmful content is basically content available on the internet that may cause you distress, anxiety or harm. Harmful content includes violent content, hate speech, impersonation, suicidal content and online abuse.

Existing privacy policy: Meta's current privacy policy for its users states that it detects, prevents and combats harmful content and investigates into suspicious activity.

Meta's privacy policy for users. Photo: Meta

Twitter's privacy policy states that company actively defends users against fraud, unauthorised use, and illegal activity.

Twitter's privacy policy. Photo: Twitter

Google's privacy policy for users details the steps it has taken to protect its users. Here is what they have done:

Google privacy policy. Photo: Google

On its Instagram page, TikTok is asking its users  to submit a report in these cases: 

Photo: Instagram/tiktok

But regardless of their privacy policies, Meta, Twitter and TikTok have been widely criticised as their platforms have been used for their spreading fake news. As per a study published in Nature: Human Behaviour, Meta owned Facebook turned out to be the highest perpetrator of spreading fake news.

What will companies have to do in the Code? Signed companies will:

  • Publish annual status reports about their adherence to the code.
  • Be sanctioned, if Code commitments are breached.
  • Introduce and participate in a public complaints system.

Areas where content will be reduced: There are 7 key areas where companies are supposed to reduce content as per the Code:

  1. Child sexual exploitation and abuse
  2. Cyberbullying or harassment
  3. Hate speech
  4. Incitement of violence
  5. Violent or graphic content
  6. Misinformation
  7. Disinformation

As per NZTech CEO Graeme Muller, the Code will be amended twice a year. “We hope the governance framework will enable it to evolve alongside local conditions, while at the same time respecting the fundamental rights of freedom of expression,” said Muller.

Muller also said that more tech companies are being asked to join the Code.

The Code will be released during New Zealand’s Netsafety Week themed, ‘Diversity Matters, Online Safety Done Together’. The Netsafety Week is from Jul 25 to July 29.

Last updated: July 25, 2022 | 17:23
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