New Zealand's biggest advertisers have written a joint letter calling on the international advertising community to join its suspension of Facebook advertising.

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In an open letter sent to the Herald, the Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA) chief executive Lindsay Mouat and the Commercial Communications Council chief executive Paul Head call for immediate changes or the complete suspension of the live-streaming platform.

If these changes are not made, the pair of executives call international advertisers to suspend the use of the platform altogether until Facebook ensures the spread of such harmful content can never happen again.


This comes after a range of high-profile New Zealand advertisers decided to suspend their advertising on the platform.

This includes major banks ASB, ANZ, BNZ, TSB and Westpac as well as a number of other major local advertisers.

Lotto NZ and Tourism New Zealand have also suspended their online advertising since the attacks.

It also comes after an open letter from the nation's major telcos Vodafone, 2degrees and Spark, calling for action from the social media company.

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While all these organisations spend heavily on advertising in the New Zealand context, the support of global advertisers, who tend to have more scale, could help to nudge Facebook into action.

A spokesperson from ASB told the Herald earlier that the bank had suspended its advertising since the day of the attacks and that it was in talks at an industry level about what a longer-term approach may look like.

These discussions have been ongoing over the past week, and the nation's advertisers have escalated their call for action from Facebook.


"While Facebook has provided platitudes and details of its reactive measures it has not implemented strict controls to verify safe content and users or paused live streaming, meaning a repeat of the broadcast of violent acts seen in Christchurch could happen at any time around the world," the letter says.

The continued risk of harmful content being spread through live-streaming was illustrated only days after the Christchurch attack when a woman in Florida woman live-streamed her suicide on the platform.

"Given there has been silence from Facebook regarding its live streaming capabilities, ANZA and the Commercial Communications Council and their members believe the issue needs to be escalated, and we need to use our united global force as an industry to drive urgent actions," the letter says.

The organisations recommend international businesses take one of three steps:

1. Consider suspending advertising on Facebook until its live streaming functionality is either taken down or sufficient controls are put in place.
2. Put this topic on the agenda at an executive level within your organisation, and petition
Facebook for change.
3. As agency and client communities in your own countries, work together and with your own industry associations and government regulators to apply pressure to bring about change.

The letter makes it clear that this is not about appropriating blame but rather ensuring that social media platforms can no longer be used as "a publishing mechanism for extremist propaganda or a live broadcaster of atrocities".


"ANZA will be presenting on this topic and the measures being taken in New Zealand to the World Federation of Advertisers at its global conference in Portugal this week, with a call for their support," the letter says.

"In the same way New Zealand has responded to this tragedy with empathy, humility, swift action and tangible outcomes, we won't stop using our industry voice until these platforms respond in kind."

So far, Facebook's response has been criticised heavily in the local market.

Yesterday, Privacy Commissioner John Edwards called the company's silence an "insult to our grief," outlining his frustration at Facebook not addressing the concerns of New Zealanders.