NZ super funds call for action from Facebook, Google and Twitter

Move follows open letter from telco CEOs to tech giants

The CEOs of five of New Zealand’s largest superannuation funds have added their voices to those of the CEOs of Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees calling for Facebook, Google and Twitter to do more to prevent the spread of content such as that live streamed by the Christchurch mosque shooter.

On 20 March the CEOs of Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees penned an open letter to the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google calling on them to work urgently with the industry and government to find ways of preventing the proliferation of such content.

The five funds are: NZ Super Fund, Accident Compensation Corporation, Government Superannuation Fund Authority, National Provident Fund and Kiwi Wealth. Between them they hold assets in excess of $90 billion on behalf of New Zealanders and, according to a report on archyety.com, have a total of $816m invested in Facebook, Twitter and Google’s listed parent company Alphabet.

The CEO of NZ Super Fund, Matt Whineray, said the funds’ engagement would “focus on ensuring that the companies concerned fulfil their duty of care to prevent harm to their users and to society,” but did not specify how this would be achieved.

Whineray said the funds were contacting other New Zealand and leading global investors to seek their support and to join them in engaging with Facebook, Twitter and Google. He said collective action would give the initiative the most impact.

“These companies’ social licence to operate has been severely damaged. We will be calling on Facebook, Google and Twitter to take more responsibility for what is published on their platforms,” he said.

“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.”

Whineray said the funds’ investment decisions were guided by New Zealand law and by the major policy positions of the New Zealand Government, so they were also investigating whether there had been breaches of any New Zealand laws or regulations by the three companies, and monitoring potential changes to Government policy.  

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