Heather du Plessis-Allan: 'Social media crackdown' is a Beehive PR job

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 7:51p.m.
The Beehive is trying to cover up on the Capital Gains Tax backdown, Heather writes. (Photo / NZ Herald)

There are reports our Prime Minister is right at the front of a global push to crack down on social media giants like Facebook.

Apparently, she’s leading the charge to rein in harmful content online

Not only is she personally pushing hard for these companies to toe the line, but other world leaders are getting in touch with her, asking her front the effort.

There’s nothing wrong with that. These social media giants do need to be pulled into line. Just today, we found out that the graphic video of the Christchurch mosque shooting is still being hosted on Facebook as recently as yesterday, and watched nearly 800 thousand times

And there’s a good argument to make that Facebook isn’t spending enough on technology and human resources to take down that video and others like it. It has the money: it earned US$17 billion in the last quarter of 2018 alone.

So fair enough, it’s a worthy enough cause.

But let me ask you this question: why are you reading about it today?

I don’t see the Government pushing a clear plan of how to tackle Facebook. I don’t see details of which international leaders are  on board. I don’t even see a sign this will be successful.

So it's clearly very early days in any attempt, and yet it's made the news. Why?

I reckon it's an attempt to get us talking about anything other than the massive capital gains tax backdown last week. This is a PR exercise in pumping the Prime Minister’s credentials as a global leader, so we forget that domestically she's just passed up a massive opportunity at showing leadership.

This is a trick the Beehive is rolling out a little too often: showing us how popular and respected the Prime Minister is internationally in the hope that we’ll then forgive all number of shortcomings domestically.

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