The Biden administration announced Friday it will be joining an international call to tackle terrorist and extremist content on the web after the Trump administration opted not to do so.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Friday that the United States would be joining the so-called Christchurch call, which came after a white supremacist killed 51 people in 2019 at two New Zealand mosques. The U.S. joins dozens of nations supporting the effort, which was led by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron.
“Countering the use of the internet by terrorists and violent extremists to radicalize and recruit is a significant priority for the United States,” Psaki said in a statement Friday.
The Trump administration had declined to join the call, which pushes social media companies to put forward community standards on terrorist and extremist content and enforce the standards, as well as look into how algorithms can drive users to extremist content. The Trump White House didn’t say specifically why it wasn’t signing on but that it thought “the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech.”
The Washington Post reported at the time that the Trump administration balked due to “free-speech concerns.”
Signing onto the call also commits the U.S. to pushing news outlets to implement ethical standards that “avoid amplifying” extremist content as well as boosting media literacy to push back against extremist narratives and tackling inequality. The call also commits governments to look into potential regulations to stop the spread of extremist content.
The call won’t violate freedom of speech, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement Friday. Price also advocated “more speech” as a way to fight extremism.
“Put simply, we remain of the view that the preferred way to defeat terrorist and violent extremist speech is more speech: to counter it with credible, alternative narratives that promote rather than restrict free expression,” Price said.
In 2019, five major tech companies, including Twitter, Google and Facebook, all committed to a plan that included banning sharing terrorist content and making reporting mechanisms easier.