Meta signs Aotearoa New Zealand Code of Practice for Online Safety and Harms

Nick McDonnell, Head of Public Policy, Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

 

Governments, academics, and others are debating how to hold internet platforms accountable, particularly in their efforts to keep people safe and protect fundamental rights like freedom of expression.

We believe that new frameworks for regulating harmful content can contribute to the internet’s continued success by articulating clear ways for government, companies, and civil society to share responsibilities and work together. As part of our commitment to working with the government and industry on new regulatory solutions, Meta is proud to be a signatory of the Aotearoa New Zealand Code of Practice for Online Safety and Harms launched by Netsafe, NZ Tech, and five technology companies on July 25, 2022.

The first-of-its-kind Code obligates tech company signatories to actively reduce harmful content in seven harm categories - child sexual exploitation and abuse, bullying and harassment, hate speech, incitement of violence, violent or graphic content, misinformation, and disinformation - on their relevant digital services in New Zealand. It outlines 45 commitments that companies must report against annually.

The Code is unique in that it:

  • Brings together multiple categories of online harmful content into one regime;
  • Will be governed by a multi-stakeholder Oversight Committee which will include Māori, community, industry, and hopefully Government representation;
  • Creates the ability for the Administrator to ‘sanction’ Signatories for non-compliance;
  • Establishes a complaints mechanism for members of the public, Government, or other groups;
  • Requires an independent review of all Signatory annual compliance reports;
  • Is iterative and can be amended after the first 12 months, or every 2 years thereafter (allowing for further localisation and stakeholder input).

Meta has long supported calls for regulation to address online harmful content and has been working collaboratively with industry, government, and safety organisations to advance the Code. This is an important step in the right direction. With a focus on harmful - not illegal content - it is not intended to replace or circumvent regulation but is intended to complement the government’s work on content regulation in the future.

Netsafe new CEO, Brent Carey, says the Code is a self-regulatory effort that has been designed with input from multiple stakeholder groups, and interest groups and will be monitored by a new multi-stakeholder governance group.

“Digital platforms kept everyone connected during Covid, but unfortunately there was a spike of more than 25% of harmful content reports. There are too many Kiwis being bullied, harassed, and abused online, which is why the industry has rallied together to protect users.”

Carey says cooperation between the five companies and various stakeholders has been essential in establishing an online safety framework for New Zealanders.

Graeme Muller, CEO of NZTech, New Zealand’s peak technology association which will be responsible for the administration of the Code said “This unique collaborative approach toward creating a better digital environment for all Kiwis is just the start and as more organisations join and sign up to the Code we will be in a much better place as a country to ensure our experience on the Internet is as safe as possible.”

The Code builds on solid online safety principles from New Zealand, Australia, and the EU, including bringing to New Zealand the same regime on mis and disinformation currently in operation in Australia.

The framework outlines the collective and voluntary commitments to safer online spaces. On top of being closely evaluated, each company will publish annual reports about their progress in adherence with the code, be held to account for breaches of their Code commitments, and take part in a public complaints mechanism.

At Meta, we’re looking forward to working with the stakeholders to ensure the Code sets in place a framework to keep Kiwis safe across multiple platforms by preventing, detecting, and responding to harmful online content. Combating online harmful content will take a whole of society effort and the Code is not intended as a total solution to this challenge. It is a genuine attempt by responsible industry players to increase safety outcomes in New Zealand, focusing on trust through transparency.

The Aotearoa New Zealand Code of Practice for Online Safety and Harms is available on the NZTech website here.

Educating Kiwis about common online scams

Nick McDonnell, Head of Public Policy (New Zealand and Pacific Islands) – October 13, 2021

 

As part of our ongoing work to protect Kiwis and educate them about common online scams, today we’ve partnered with Netsafe, New Zealand Police and CERT NZ to launch an education campaign helping New Zealanders spot scammers and protect themselves from common online financial harms.

Launching across Facebook and Instagram, the New Zealand-designed ‘SCAM Gallery,’ (Society of Con Artists And Manipulators), profiles six common online scams through video-based exhibits. An expert curator – ‘Sam the Scamologist’, explains how each scam is carried out and what can be done to avoid them.

 

Image taken from the SCAM Gallery campaign video addressing impersonation scams.

Developed by Facebook in conjunction with Christchurch-based agency Not Another™, Netsafe, CERT NZ, and New Zealand Police, the campaign focuses on the most common  scams that have adapted from the offline world to the online world. From fake promotions, to romance, phishing and investment, Kiwis are not immune to scammers. Recent figures from Netsafe show that last year, New Zealanders lost nearly $11.6M to scams.

Over the past 18 months, people in New Zealand have been spending more time online to connect with family and friends, run their business and seek entertainment. We know some of these scam techniques are not unique to Facebook, but we want to do more to help our community spot these commonplace scams.

We hope the SCAM Gallery will equip our online community with the know-how to identify and avoid some of the most common scams before they cause real emotional and financial harm.

Addressing the importance of awareness of scams  Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Dalziel, Officer in Charge of the Cybercrime Unit at NZ Police said, “We know education plays an important role in keeping people safe online and we welcome Facebook’s efforts to help educate Kiwis so they can learn more about how to spot a scam and protect themselves.”

“We know scammers are often opportunists and will keep trying until they are successful. And if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Safety organisation and long-term Facebook safety advisory member, CEO of Netsafe, Martin Cocker also shared his support for this initiative and outlined the impact of scams to Kiwis. “Unfortunately, we know the reports to Netsafe represent only a small percentage of the money lost each year. For a long time, people have relied just on common sense and intuition to protect themselves online. However, with online scams becoming increasingly sophisticated, more awareness is needed, which is why we’re glad to be part of such an important campaign designed to help the community stay safe.”

The six scams ‘exhibited’ in the SCAM Gallery are:

  • Prizes and promotions
  • Romance
  • Online shopping
  • Phishing
  • Impersonation
  • Investment.

To visit Facebook’s SCAM Gallery and learn more about how to protect yourself from scams, go to www.scamgallery.co.nz. The campaign tips and advice are also available in te reo Māori.

Netsafety Week – keeping Kiwis safe online with a new online safety code and new Instagram safety features.

Nick McDonnell - Head of Public Policy, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands – July 30, 2021

 

Kiwis come to Facebook to run thriving businesses, support each other through Groups and connect with family, friends and causes they are passionate about. Our top priority at Facebook is to ensure New Zealanders who use our services also feel safe, which is why we are taking further steps to support online safety in New Zealand.

Partnering with Netsafety Week

We are very proud to be supporting Netsafe in the first Netsafety Week in New Zealand. Netsafe are a longstanding partner of Facebook’s and a unique and important organisation in online safety.

“Netsafety Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the safe and positive use of technology and to talk about the role we can all play in creating a better internet in our community,” says Martin Cocker, Netsafe CEO. “Nearly 23,000 people came to Netsafe for expert incident advice last year on topics including harassment, image-based abuse, self-harm, grooming, hate speech, scams and school incidents – and we know there are many more people who need support, but don’t know where to go. This is why we’re so grateful that hundreds of schools, organisations and charities have united to share the ways we can work together to make online spaces safe and reinforce where to get help if things don’t pan out. We’re especially grateful to our sponsors including Facebook and Instagram as they have enabled us to amplify the messages of the week and which helps us to make Aotearoa safer online.”

Supporting the Code of Practise for Online Safety and Harms 

New frameworks for regulating harmful content can contribute to the internet’s continued success by articulating clear ways for government, companies, and civil society to share responsibilities and work together. That’s why we support Netsafe’s creation of a voluntary Code of Practise for Online Safety and Harms alongside Netsafe as a credible, world-leading step to strengthen and ensure the safety of Kiwis online.

Protecting people from harm without undermining freedom of expression or the benefits of the open internet is a complex challenge but we look forward to collaborating with Netsafe and the broader industry partners on the development of this Code. Focusing on transparent and fit for purpose systems to ensure companies are making decisions about online speech that minimises harm and holds industry to account for enforcement of robust safety policies, is the right step to balance these challenges.The creation of a code is consistent with the work we do in building safety into the design of our services and is an extension of the Christchurch Call to Action’s call for industry to establish voluntary frameworks to address harmful content. Netsafe will lead the Code’s development over the coming months, including public, Government and NGO consultation before launching the Code towards the end of the year. We look forward to collaborating with safety experts, industry and civil society to ensure Kiwis continue to enjoy and feel safe not just on our services, but in the online space more generally.

You can see Netsafe’s media release here.

New safety tools for young people on Instagram

On Instagram, we want young people to connect with friends and keep up with their family, but we don’t want them to deal with unwanted messages or comments from strangers. We think private accounts are the right choice for young people, but we recognise some young creators might want to have public accounts to build a following.

This week we are taking further steps in our journey to strengthen youth safety and privacy, by addressing concerns regarding the experience of our young users on our platforms including:

  • Defaulting new Instagram accounts of young people who are under 16 into private accounts.
  • ​​For young people who already have a public account on Instagram, we’ll show them a notification highlighting the benefits of a private account, prompting them to change their privacy settings.
  • Across Instagram, Facebook and Messenger we are also now limiting the options advertisers have in reaching young people to age, location and gender only.

You can read more about these safety tools here.

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