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New Zealanders concerned about harmful online social media content – ​​report

Young people are living more of their lives online, says acting chief censor. Photo / 123RF

By RNZ

New Zealanders lack trust in social media companies to keep them safe and are very concerned about young people being exposed to harmful or inappropriate content.

A Classification Bureau report on what New Zealanders see on screen and online shows that people support the regulation of harmful online content.

“More and more people are online and, in particular, young people are living more of their lives online,” said acting chief censor Rupert Ablett-Hampson.

“We also know that life online now includes the consumption of content on many other platforms, including social media platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram, and there are no substantive regulations on this content for the moment.”

The report found that 83% of people were concerned about harmful or inappropriate content on social media, video-sharing sites or other websites.

Ablett-Hampson said the survey data showed a “significant shift” between people’s ability to choose which “regulated media”, like TV shows and movies, were consumed and the challenges of preventing abuse. exposure to damage by other means.

“I thought it was telling that 33% of people have seen content that directly promotes or encourages violence towards others on topics like race, culture, religion and sexuality,” he said. .

Similarly, 20% of survey respondents had seen online content encouraging self-harming behaviors.

The research came at the right time because the government had commissioned a review of online media and content regulation, Ablett-Hampson said.

He said he aimed to design and implement a new approach to content regulation that minimizes the risk of harm to New Zealanders.

“People have told us that there is a lot to do to improve things, including stricter regulation, better technical solutions, education and tech/social media companies to take on more responsibility, and we hopefully this information will help inform the government’s review.”

Ablett-Hampson said the report was more aimed at children and young people “because that’s the goal” of the Classification Office.

However, he “completely” agreed that all New Zealanders were vulnerable to exposure to harmful content.

“I think a lot of the misinformation that has led to Covid hesitation and protests in Parliament…is directly due to material being brought into New Zealand via social media platforms.”

Online damage was “particularly widespread” in New Zealand, with “really direct experiences”, he said, which included things like the March 15 mosque attacks.

On Tuesday, Ablett-Hampson banned a pseudo-documentary using extensive footage from a live stream of the attacks, which also had a voiceover claiming the attacks were fabricated.

In an interim decision, it classified it as objectionable content. It is forbidden for anyone to download, view or share it.

The 33-minute video served as the second part of a play that was banned in February.

A final decision on banning the content will be made within 20 days.


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