New Zealand Super’s Proxy Drive Against Big Tech Grows to 23 Institutions

Outraged by social media’s showing of the Christchurch massacre, the pension fund enlists other plans to push its cause.

Within two weeks of the Christchurch mosque bloodbath, New Zealand’s superannuation fund’s proxy campaign against big tech has attracted almost two dozen other funds with assets  worth more than $500 billion.

The campaign, which calls for better content screening by social media and internet search engines Facebook, Google, and Twitter, was launched by the $27.8 billion pension organization in response to last month’s Christchurch terror attacks.

In the March 15 shootings, a gunman assaulted two city mosques, killing 50 people. Prior to the violence, the gunman posted a manifesto on Facebook. Live footage of the shooting was then picked up and posted by users of Twitter and YouTube, which Google owns.

New Zealand Super then launched its campaign for institutional investors to “strengthen controls to prevent the live streaming and distribution of objectionable content.” The initial advocates consisted of the New Zealand Super, Accident Compensation Corporation, Government Superannuation Fund Authority, National Provident Fund, and Kiwi Wealth. All funds are based in New Zealand, with managed assets totaling NZ$90 billion ($60 billion).  

Within several days, both national and international financial institutions such as Mercer NZ and the Church of England Pensions Board had confirmed they would join the cause, bringing the total number to participants to 23. Total assets of the participants are now at NZ$800 billion, or $544.5 billion.

“We have been delighted to receive swift and wholehearted support for the initiative from the wider New Zealand investment sector,” said Matt Whineray, New Zealand Super’s chief executive and chief investment officer, who said the plan’s focus has expanded to top global investors. “The combination of New Zealand’s investor voice and a global coalition of shareholders has the potential to be immensely powerful.”

Whineray and Catherine Savage, the fund’s chair, are scheduled to speak with various global investors about the initiative this week in London.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google/Alphabet representatives have not been able to be reached for comment.

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