Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees want Facebook, Twitter and Google to take more responsibility for content posted on their sites. The leaders of New Zealand’s three largest telcos spelled out their concerns in a joint letter delivered this week to the social media giants.

The letter is signed by Spark managing director Simon Moutter, Vodafone NZ chief executive Jason Paris and 2degrees chief executive Stewart Sherriff.

They acted after all three social networks streamed disturbing live online video footage taken by the Christchurch terrorist last Friday. Each of the social media networks continued to show footage for hours after the attack. 

The letter says: "Although we recognise the speed with which social network companies sought to remove Friday’s video once they were made aware of it, this was still a response to material that was rapidly spreading globally and should never have been made available online.”

It goes on to call for balance: “We must find the right balance between internet freedom and the need to protect New Zealanders, especially the young and vulnerable, from harmful content. Social media companies and hosting platforms that enable the sharing of user generated content with the public have a legal duty of care to protect their users and wider society by preventing the uploading and sharing of content such as this video.”

They recommend following proposals made by the European Union. This includes taking down materials within a specific time, implementing measures to stop people from uploading similar videos and fining companies that fail to take appropriate action.