Africa: The Christchurch Call Could Potentially Be Used to Clamp Down On Legitimate Political Dissent in Africa

analysis

Eighteen countries, including Senegal, have endorsed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's 'Christchurch Call', aimed at curbing the online spread of extremist and terrorist material. But the call holds dangers for Africa, where the risk of platform harms have too often become a justification for shutting down the internet.

Two months ago in Christchurch, New Zealand, a white supremacist entered a mosque wielding two sets of weapons. With the one, he shot and killed 51 people. With the other, a GoPro camera equipped with livestreaming software strapped to his head, he broadcast his attack in real time on Facebook and other social media.

The events of 15 March 2019 were designed to go viral. In the days before the attack, the terrorist used smaller platforms to upload his manifesto, and 10 minutes before the attack started he posted links to the document on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and 8chan's notorious "politically incorrect" channel. Footage of his 17-minute spree reverberated across the world, enabling countless users to follow him -- or, given the gamer perspective enabling by using a head-mounted camera, be him -- as he moved from one mosque to another.

Facebook's overstretched moderator teams -- which, among other...

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