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Council pension funds press social media over Christchurch video

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Local authority pension funds are backing calls for social networks to tighten controls on content following the shootings in Christchurch.

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) and the Merseyside Pension Fund want the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter to prevent livestreaming and spreading of “objectionable content”.

The gunman responsible for the Christchurch shooting in March livestreamed it to Facebook, with the video being spread across other social media networks as tech companies sought to remove it.

Figures for July 2017, the latest available, show that of LAPFF’s members 38 had direct holdings in Facebook, 13 in Twitter, and 46 in Alphabet, the parent company for Google and YouTube.

Paul Doughty (Lab), acting chair for LAPFF and chair for Merseyside, said: “The Christchurch shootings should be a wake-up call for social media companies.

“They must take urgent action to strengthen controls and prevent the transmission of objectionable content. This is needed to protect human life and also the reputations and long-term value of these companies.”

The two British organisations have joined 21 other investors in calling for more controls, including several state-owned bodies in New Zealand such as the NZ Super Fund. Together the investors account for more than £417bn.

Matt Whineray, chief executive at NZ Super Fund, said: “Our initial focus has been on building a broad coalition of New Zealand investors. We have been delighted to receive swift and wholehearted support for the initiative from the wider New Zealand investment sector.

“There is also a groundswell of international interest and support. We are now seeking the involvement of other leading institutional investors globally.”

LAPFF’s call for tighter content controls on social networks is the latest example of the forum using its financial clout to challenge environmental, social and governance policies in firms it invests in.

In February the forum hailed changes to the leadership team at Ryanair, which followed threats of shareholder action at the airline’s annual general meeting.

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