Facebook says people who have broken certain rules "including our Dangerous Organisations and Individuals policy – will be restricted from using Facebook Live."

Its announcement has been seen by some as a PR stunt designed to take the sting out of the Paris Summit.

I'd agree.


It's a basic, minimal. The only question is why it's taken so long since March 15 to implement.

And it could be got around within minutes by creating a new account.

I would have liked Facebook to follow the Google-owned YouTube in restricting mobile livestreams to those with 1000 followers or more.

That safeguard can still be gamed, but with a lot more hassle - but only with a lot more hassle, and with many more opportunities for flags to be raised.

YouTube also disabled search functions in hours after the Christchurch attack.

I'd hasten to add that YouTube is far from perfect, and it was good to see discussion of its grooming content at the Paris summit. Hopefully that will lead to some concrete moves.

It's as if Facebook is following the same tactic as the NRA on gun control, resisting even minor reform on the basis it could be the thin end of the wedge.

It was also notable that its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, didn't front (although he did meet French President Emmanuel Macron earlier).


Instead, the social network sent its global comms head Nick Clegg - the former UK deputy prime minister turned Facebook's designated punching bag.

Facebook did also announce it would put US$7.5 million towards research partnerships to improve its image and video analysis technology that failed to block every upload of the gunman's video footage to its platform.

Good, but that's just a drop in the bucket for a company that's making billions in profit every quarter and whose own efforts at AI safeguards are so clearly falling short (Facebook's automated systems not only failed to flag the alleged Christchurch gunman's video for an hour before NZ law enforcement stepped in, but it has allowed uploads continually since. New York-based researcher Eric Feinberg has constantly been alerting the Herald to new uploads. This morning, he found another two copies on Facebook, and another two on Facebook-owned Instagram).

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's refusal to temporarily halt livestreaming was also disappointing (the company said livestreaming can also be used to stop suicide or self-harm, but would not provide NZ's Privacy Commissioner with any figures on that front).

As was his refusal to consider even a slight delay on livestreaming. Zuckerberg said that would "fundamentally break" the service, which was often used for two-way chat for celebrations like birthdays. But there are lots of video chat apps - including Facebook's - for having a live video conversation between family and friends. You don't have to broadcast it instantly to the whole world on Facebook Live.

As for the Christchurch Call agreement itself - the US declined to sign, citing free-speech concerns. It's hard to pin down what concerns, exactly, given the agreement was so vague and watery.

The social media companies won't be sharing their all-powerful algorithms with regulators or be targetted by anti-trust laws - two mechanisms a recent NZ Law Foundation-funded report recommended to effect genuine change.

But I won't pillory Jacinda Ardern for that. The summit was only ever going to be a first step. The PM is right that there needs to be globally-coordinated action on social media. But that is going to take years.

In the meantime, NZ should consider the kind of tough unilateral action taken by Germany, which has classed Facebook as a publisher, and Australia - which now threatens social media companies with fines up of up to 10 per cent of their revenue and jail time for their executives if they're too slow to take down "abhorrent violent material e"

It's too early to say if Australia's law will prove effective - some critics say it will even prove counterproductive and undermine free speech. But in Germany, it's helped focus Facebook's attention and resources.

For now, not a lot of new pressure is going on Facebook et al. The US decision not to attend has been accompanied by major US media barely covering the event. It was absent from the home pages of major newspapers. Zuckerberg would not have seen any flak as he glanced at his iPad over breakfast.