Yet the debate about regulating the internet is raising broader questions about what constitutes acceptable free expression online. Companies and governments have largely coalesced around addressing violent, terrorist-related and child-exploitation content online, but there is less consensus on issues like what qualifies as hate speech and misinformation, and what forms of political rhetoric are tolerable even if they are offensive and polarizing.
The Christchurch Call is not binding and does not include penalties for platforms that do not comply. But as governments around the world consider new laws and regulations, tech companies are under growing pressure to demonstrate that they can police their platforms. On Tuesday, before the gathering in Paris, Facebook said it would place more restrictions on the use of its live video service.
Last week, France proposed new laws that would require companies to eliminate harmful content. Britain put forward a similar proposal last month. And after the Christchurch massacre, Australia passed a law that made company executives personally liable for the spread of violent material.
“That the U.S. is a no-show to such an important meeting indicates a shocking lack of concern about the tremendous harms perpetuated by the internet, including terrorism and killing,” said Mr. Ghosh, who is now co-director of the Platform Accountability Project at Harvard University. “Further, our lack of participation will reinforce the intellectual divide between Americans and the rest of the world.”