UN chief calls on tech firms to stop profiting from ‘toxic content’

By Thomson Reuters Feb 16, 2024 | 8:03 AM

MUNICH (Reuters) – The head of the United Nations on Friday called for technology firms to stop profiting from the proliferation of toxic content after accusing social media platforms of complicity in fuelling antisemitism, racism and anti-Muslim bigotry.

“Tech companies should assume their responsibilities and stop profiting from the amplification of toxic content of all kinds,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the Munich Security Conference.

“We are witnessing an intolerable explosion of anti-Semitism and other forms of religious and racial hatred,” said Guterres, who has repeatedly expressed concern about the power of social media companies and called for regulation to improve transparency.

“Divided societies are weak societies where extremist narratives can take hold and tensions quickly escalate into violence, undermining democratic values,” he said.

Social media companies have said they have taken a range of steps to remove harmful content from their platforms, particularly since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict on Oct. 7.

(Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Toby Chopra)