To try to curb online terrorism, AI powers, including OpenAI and Anthropic have committed to supporting the Christchurch Call to Action. Initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron and then by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, this initiative was created in response to the tragic shooting at the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.
Growing threat of online terrorism
The commitment of these AI companies is crucial as governments and industry leaders recognize the inevitable risk that advanced AI technologies will be exploited by terrorists and violent extremists. Recent events, such as Hamas’s attacks on Israel since October 7, have seen a “massive amount” of terrorist content spread online, raising alarms about the need for robust countermeasures.
Jacinda Ardern, in a discussion with Axios in Paris, highlighted the potential role of AI in mitigating terrorist activities. She highlighted the thriving security technology industry, low-cost open source solutions, and Microsoft’s partnership with Tech Against Terrorism to enhance Azure’s AI content security service.
At a summit in Paris, OpenAI and Anthropic officially joined the Christchurch Call, alongside other tech entities like Discord and Vimeo. It comes after platforms were criticized for inadequately policing extremist content, particularly following the Christchurch live attack on Facebook.
Effective crisis response protocols
A crisis response protocol developed by signatories to the Christchurch Appeal played a key role in the complete removal of live-streamed footage of a 2022 mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket. Despite these efforts, Ardern sees recent gaps in the proper deployment of these protocols.
Tech Against Terrorism estimates that around 5,000 pieces of AI-generated terrorist content are created each week. A significant concern is the potential for AI tools to help terrorist groups evade automated content identification systems, raising the stakes for tech platforms in the fight against online extremism.
The Christchurch Call commitment
The initial call to action focuses on implementing immediate measures to prevent the spread of extremist content, including through live streaming. Ardern, reflecting on the Christchurch massacre, called for sustained efforts and innovation in the fight against online terrorism.
Ardern identifies as a “techno-pragmatist”, recognizing the skepticism surrounding AI and social media. She advocates that AI companies be proactive, recognize potential harm, and work toward preventative solutions, rather than upgrading after the fact.
Although AI offers faster and potentially more reliable options than human moderators for detecting extremist content, companies and governments participating in the Christchurch Call face minimal reporting requirements. This lack of oversight helps reduce content moderation, even if companies are known for their involvement.
Inclusivity and global standards
The Call, while promoting a free, open and secure Internet, poses challenges to undemocratic governments and businesses in these countries. Ardern suggests that these entities can still apply the Call’s standards without formally adhering to them, thereby ensuring wider adherence to its principles.