White House Won't Sign Global Pact To 'Combat Extremism' Due To 1st Amendment Concerns

The White House said on Wednesday that while it stands by the international community in "condemning terrorist and violent extremist content online," that it is "not currently in a position" to join a call to action in the name of the Christchurch shootings, spearheaded by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron.

"The United States stands with the international community in condemning terrorist and violent extremist content online in the strongest terms," the White House said in a statement, adding that it's "not currently in a position to join the endorsement," citing First Amendment concerns, and adding that "the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech." 

"We continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content online while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press," the statement continued. Later in the day, the White House tweeted that the administration is "fighting for free speech online," while sharing a link to a government website where people can share their experiences with tech bias and censorship. 

Those who have joined the  pact include the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia, Italy, India, German and Spain - while technology firms including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are participating as well. 

Ms. Ardern has used the Christchurch killings to rally support for increased vigilance toward keeping violent and extremist content off the world’s largest internet platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft and Amazon have vowed to monitor their services more aggressively for material that encourages and facilitates violence. -NYT