The Christchurch Call to Action is much more than the collection of well-meaning words sprinkled in stardust that many feared.

The scope of the agreement and the level of buy-in is impressive, given it is only two months since the terror attack on March 15 and there were also a number of pressing issues to attend to: supporting victims' families, changing gun laws, running a national memorial service, and setting up a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

The Call to Action went further than expected in terms of tech companies pledging to not only review their profit-hungry business models, but to essentially adjust them if they're found to be breeding grounds of harm or hate.


Anyone who spends time on these platforms knows how easy it is to be sucked into an online black hole.

If companies follow through on reporting where their algorithms lead their users, it could shed light on the bigger question of whether they are being used as a tool to radicalise users.

That all means nothing if the tech companies decide to ignore what they have said they will do.

Early signs are promising with the release of a nine-point plan from the five major online platforms to deliver on the Call to Action.

Even Facebook's announcement of tighter livestreaming restrictions and US$7.5 million towards developing technology was laudable, even if it is only 0.034 per cent of its US$22 billion profit-margin in 2018.

And then there are the 55 investment funds, with pockets $5 trillion deep, that say they will heavy the tech companies to follow through.

It's not as intimidating as it sounds, given how deep the tech companies' own pockets are, but all these factors intensify the public spotlight that is now well and truly on them.

Such scrutiny is not insignificant in light of the fact that the Call to Action is non-binding and not enforceable.

If a mandatory framework with enforceable penalties had been the goal, it would have taken years to pull together and would mostly likely be out of date by the time it had come into force.

That would have squandered the moral authority that Jacinda Ardern has deservedly built up in her response to the terror attack.

She has not been alone. Thousands of government officials across multiple agencies have been working tirelessly for weeks - "heroic" is how one official described it - behind the scenes.

But the fact that so many turned out in Paris – along with 250 of the world's media – is a reflection of Ardern's status on the international stage, which has grown even more after today.

It was not quite enough to draw Mark Zuckerberg or Donald Trump to Paris, whose presence would have undoubtedly given the call a massive boost.

But their absence does not turn the agreement into meaningless stardust.

Jacinda Ardern meets British Prime Minister Theresa May at the British embassy in Paris this week. Photo / Thibault Camus, AP
Jacinda Ardern meets British Prime Minister Theresa May at the British embassy in Paris this week. Photo / Thibault Camus, AP