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PM admits NZ's been too focused on Islamic extremism

Newshub logoNewshub 5 days ago Tova O'Brien
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Jacinda Ardern is acknowledging that New Zealand has been too focused on Islamic extremism and not enough on white supremacy, in a way she hasn't before.

The Prime Minister's met with experts and academics in Paris to discuss how to combat the spread of online extremist content, and she's called for the approach to terrorism to change. 

"There has been a traditional approach to terrorism that would not necessarily have picked up the ideology that New Zealand has experienced on 15 March and that was white supremacy, white nationalism."

Speaking in Paris, the Prime Minister discussed how extremist groups use code words online to radicalise new recruits, hooking them with seemingly innocuous terms - and over time, brainwashing them.

Ardern said there's an acknowledgment of that in the Christchurch Call which aims to get agreement from tech companies to take initiatives to end the spread of terrorist content online.

"We don't have a perfect solution in two days but we are doing something that hasn't been done before."

Governments and social media companies keep databases of the terms being used.

  • RAHOWA: an acronym for "Radical Holy War".

  • 6 Gazillion: a holocaust denial term implying the number killed was made up.
  • And women might be called "femoids" or Female Humanoid Organisms - because they're considered sub or non-human.

"It's coded for a reason to try and avoid those kinds of interventions," Ardern said.

Tristan Harris, who worked as a design ethicist at Google where he studied ethics of human persuasion, told Newshub he knows too well the hazards of social media and algorithms.

"When a teen girl watches a diet video, they recommend anorexia videos because they're more extreme. When you start someone on a 9/11 news video, they start you on 9/11 conspiracy theories."

Harris' colleague, Aza Raskin, designed the infinite scroll feature you probably use on your phone which allows endless scrolling through websites.

This week Ardern will be meeting with tech giants and world leaders. But controversially, there's still no word on whom - if anyone - from the United States is attending the Christchurch Call.

It may not have helped that the Prime Minister spoke to CNN's Christiane Amanpour about the US failing to reform its gun laws, when Australia and New Zealand have done so.

It could be a diplomatic stoush on the eve of a potential diplomatic victory.

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