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Singapore PM says call to curb online violence ‘effective’

/ 07:06 PM May 17, 2019
Singapore PM says call to curb online violence 'effective'

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (left) shakes hands with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after signing a joint declaration for enhanced partnership at the Istana or presidential palace in Singapore on May 17, 2019. AP

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Friday that a global call to curb the spread of hate and extremism on internet platforms was an “effective” response to the New Zealand mosque attacks, but stopped short of endorsing it.

The “Christchurch Call” set of guidelines for world leaders and tech companies was drafted by France and New Zealand.

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It is named after the New Zealand city where 51 people were killed in a March attack on mosques. The gunman’s broadcast of the attack on Facebook caused public outrage and fueled calls to regulate social media.

Lee said Singapore takes this problem “very seriously.” He also thanked New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was on an official visit to Singapore, for “rallying an effective international response to this serious issue.”

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Both countries agreed Friday to further cooperation on trade, defense and cybersecurity, among others.

Ardern said the attack was “designed to spread online and in that regard, it was successful.”

Although a “relatively small number of people” had viewed the livestream on Facebook, it was later shared 1.5 million times, she said.

In the first 24 hours of the attack, videos of it were uploaded on YouTube at a rate of once per second.
“We felt a strong duty in the aftermath of the 15th of March to try and prevent that kind of situation ever happening again,” Ardern added.

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron led a meeting in Paris to compile the call’s guidelines, which was attended by world leaders and tech companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter.

The US has said it would not endorse it, citing respect for “freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”

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