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NZ investment funds throw weight against social media giants

21 Mar 2019

While they’re perfect for keeping in touch with friends and family, the Christchurch terror attacks last week revealed social media platforms can also be used to spread hate and evil.

In light of this, the NZ Super Fund, Accident Compensation Corporation, Government Superannuation Fund Authority, National Provident Fund, and Kiwi Wealth are throwing their investment breadth behind calls for Facebook, Google and Twitter to take action following the live-streaming and sharing on social media of last week's attacks.

Together, the five public investors manage assets worth more than NZ$90 billion on behalf of New Zealanders.

According to NZ Super Fund CEO Matt Whineray, the joint shareholder agreement would focus on ensuring that the companies concerned fulfil their duty of care to prevent harm to their users and to society.

“We have been profoundly shocked and outraged by the Christchurch terror attacks and their transmission on social media. These companies' social licence to operate has been severely damaged,” says Whineray.

“We will be calling on Facebook, Google and Twitter to take more responsibility for what is published on their platforms. They must take action to prevent this sort of material being uploaded and shared on social media. An urgent remedy to this problem is required.”

The group is supportive of appeals by New Zealand telco company CEOs for Facebook, Google and Twitter to participate in an urgent industry and government discussion to find an enduring solution to this issue.

In a bid to increase their presence, the investors are calling on other New Zealand and global investors to join them in engaging with the companies, saying collective action will give the initiative the most impact.

“We are in the process of contacting other New Zealand and leading global investors, seeking their support for this initiative,” says Whineray.

“Our responsible investment decisions are guided by New Zealand law and major policy positions of the New Zealand Government. We are therefore also investigating whether there have been breaches of any New Zealand laws or regulations by these companies, and monitoring potential changes to Government policy.”