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National: Jacinda Ardern calls out social media companies, and advocates for gun reform in Harvard Commencement address

3:00pm on 27 May 2022

By Jessica Hopkins 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delivered the highly prestigious Harvard Commencement address, an honour also held by Winston Churchill, JFK, and Angela Merkel.

The Prime Minister used the Commencement to address the increasing risk of disinformation on social media platforms to democracy, calling out the companies that run them, and their algorithms that create internet echo chambers.

“The time has come for social media companies and other online providers to recognize their power and to act on it,” said Ardern.

She highlighted the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks, which were were livestreamed on social media. Investigators found that the killer had been radicalized online. 

She received a standing ovation when she said the government had succeeded in banning military style semi-automatics and assault rifles shortly following the the attacks.

This comes just two days after the massacre in Texas that saw 19 primary school aged students and two teachers killed.

Ardern was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university, recognising her approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

She also confirmed to media afterwards that she will meet US President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday. 

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.