Calling on social media giants for greater accountability

26 January 2021

In the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks, Booster joined an initiative led by NZ Super Fund, calling on social media companies to do more to prevent their platforms being used to disseminate objectionable material.

Booster, along with a range of financial institutions and investors, joined the global investment collaboration to engage with the world's three leading social media companies: Facebook, Alphabet (YouTube) and Twitter.

The objective of the engagement called for the social media companies to strengthen controls to prevent the live streaming and distribution of objectionable content, stemming from the live stream of the Christchurch mosque attacks in 2019.

The focus of the initiative was for open engagement and dialogue with the Boards, requesting that they:

  • improve their governance and accountability;
  • prevent their platforms from being used to promote and share objectionable content;
  • commit sufficient resources to preventing the dissemination and spread of objectionable material across the platforms.

Previously, Facebook had a more 'hands-off' approach when dealing with objectionable content on its platforms; preferring to monitor, but not to prevent it. As a direct result of the initiative's engagement efforts, Facebook recently advised that it has updated the charter of its Audit & Risk Oversight Committee to explicitly include review of content-related risks that violate its policies, and it will move not just to monitor or mitigate such abuse, but to prevent it.

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It's great to have been part of this initiative and had the voice of our investors heard.

Nic Craven, Senior Manager - Research, Booster

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A spokesperson for the initiative said, "In the absence of law to address wider responsibilities of the respective companies – we have been one voice of many, demanding greater accountability in terms of their impact on society."

The move towards Facebook's Board taking a preventative stance will change the nature of the ongoing conversation with the initiative, driving a proactive, rather than reactive, focus to the issue.

Alphabet has also recently strengthened the mandate of its Audit committee to explicitly include oversight of civil and human rights-related risks. It is hoped Twitter will follow suit.


Read the original open letter here