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Jacinda Ardern Calls for Censorship and Gun Control

During an address to Harvard University graduates, Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, called for tech companies to censor the “scourge of disinformation.”

Image Credit: Brett Hondow

The tragic school shooting that took place in Uvalde, Texas, is still on the minds of Americans. At the graduation address, Jacinda Ardern talked about the 2019 Christchurch shooting as the pretext for the government of New Zealand to censor online content as well as banning “military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles.”

Ardern said: “We knew we needed significant gun reform, and so that is what we did.” She then went on to say “But we also knew that if we wanted genuine solutions to the issue of violent extremism online, it would take government, civil society and the tech companies themselves to change the landscape.”

Arden then suggested that social media companies develop “responsible algorithms” to tackle “disinformation” and “make choices and decisions for us” about what content is visible online.

Ardern said: “The time has come for social media companies and other online providers to recognize their power and to act on it.”

“That means upholding their own basic terms of service. That means recognizing the role they play in constantly curating and shaping the online environments that we’re in. That algorithmic processes make choices and decisions for us.”

Ardern continued to say that: “At best that means that the user experience is personalized, but at worst it means the user experience can be radicalized” She shen commented further: “Let’s start with transparency in how algorithmic processes work and the outcomes they deliver. But let’s finish with a shared approach to responsible algorithms, because the time has come.”

“When facts are turned into fiction, and fiction turned into fact, you stop debating ideas and you start debating conspiracy,” she continued.

Ardern then criticized “keyboard warriors” who spread information or content that she doesn’t approve of.

She said: “In my mind, when I read something especially horrific on my feed, I imagine it’s written by a lone person, unacquainted with personal hygiene practices, dressed in a poorly fitted superhero costume – one that is baggy in all the wrong places.”

She added: “Keyboard warrior or not though, it’s still something that has been written by a human, and it’s something that has been read by one too.”

Watch Jacinda Ardern’s full speech:

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