Countering Violent Extremism Online

Note: If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 111 now.

Violent extremism refers to an individual or group who justifies the use of violence, or advocates for others to use violence in order to radically change the nature of government, religion or society.

This type of violence is often targeted at groups who violent extremists perceive as threatening or undermining their world view.

On this page

The government’s role in countering violent extremism

The NZ government is focused on reducing the threat of terrorism and violent extremism.  Countering violent extremism is a complex, long-term challenge. Multiple government organisations, law enforcement agencies, civil society, academia and communities all have a role to play.

DIA’s role in countering violent extremism

The Digital Safety team at the Department of Internal Affairs (‘DIA’) is responsible for keeping New Zealanders safe from online harm by responding to and preventing the spread of objectionable material that promotes or encourages violent extremism.

As part our of our role we:

  • respect and support the right of New Zealanders to lawfully express their opinions and participate online;
  • understand the environment in which violent extremist material is created and shared online;
  • work with government and community, in Aotearoa and around the world, to keep New Zealanders safe from harm;
  • prevent, deter and, where necessary, prosecute those spreading illegal, objectionable material online.

Our work aligns with the Christchurch Call actions to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.

The Christchurch Call is a commitment by Governments and tech companies to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online. It includes a number of voluntary commitments by government, the online service providers and civil society to reduce the threat of violent extremism within society and curb the spread of harmful content online.

Understanding the New Zealand Online Extremist Ecosystem

In 2021 we released a report showing the scope, nature and scale of online extremism in New Zealand – the first introspective research of its kind in Aotearoa.

The report, Understanding the New Zealand Online Extremist Ecosystem, highlights that online extremism trends in New Zealand are broadly consistent with trends in countries like the USA, Australia and the UK.

It also shows that far-right extremist ideologies and conspiracy theories such as QAnon are much more common here than other ideologies. 

The report is part of the Government’s response to recommendation six of the Royal Commission of Inquiry’s report, which stated the need for an improved domestic picture of the challenge New Zealand faces from online extremism, how it has developed and emerging trends.

The report will help government agencies working to prevent and counter online extremism, including the Department, better understand the scope, nature and scale of the issue. This information has not been available in the past.

The report is supported by a methodological discussion paper. In publishing the methodological, conceptual and ethical thinking and decisions that underlie the findings, we hope that the lessons might be of some value and use to the research communities across the world that have similar research questions in mind.

The reports were commissioned from ISD, an internationally renowned think-tank. The reports used data from publicly available social media, online forums, and websites. The focus was on content and not on individuals or content producers.

NZ’s process for responding to violent extremism online

DIA leads the Online Crisis Response Process. This is a key initiative that facilitates the rapid assessment and coordinated response to an online crisis, and the sharing of information in a secure and timely manner between government agencies, industry, online services providers and civil society.

This response connects to the international processes developed through the Christchurch Call Crisis Response Protocol, European Union (EU) Crisis Protocol, and the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) Content Incident Protocol. 

How objectionable material is classified

The Film, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 sets out criteria for what may be judged as objectionable. This includes content that:

  • depicts violence, cruelty, and crime in a way that could be harmful;
  • promotes or encourages acts of terrorism and crime;
  • targets a specific group.

How to report harmful content

The Digital Safety Team at DIA investigates content that clearly or potentially relates to violent extremism. If you are concerned that something you have seen may be objectionable under the terms of the Act, you can report it to us for investigation.

Report violent extremist content

Note: If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 111 now.

To report violent extremist content please fill in this online form.

Report violent extremist content

What happens to my report:

Your complaint will be entered into our database for review and may be examined by one of our Investigators during standard business hours.  If your report requires more urgent attention you should make a report to police by calling 111.

The actions we may take depend on the type on content reported. We may:

  • Work with the hosting platform (social media company or website) and ask them to remove the content, especially where it breaches the company’s terms of service; or
  • Ask the Classification Office to classify the content and determine whether it is objectionable; or
  • Liaise with law enforcement / regulatory bodies and various internet service providers overseas to ensure unlawful content is removed from view in New Zealand.

Report a criminal act

To report a criminal act, you should contact the Police - 111 is the emergency number for Police. Dial 105 to report things that have already happened that don’t need urgent Police assistance. Alternatively you can call into your local Police station. Police also take reports online via the 105 online reporting portal

Report an online incident

To report online incidents such as online bullying, discrimination or racism, visit ‘Report harmful content – Netsafe’.

Report an online security issue

Report an online security issue such as password breach, an online scam or malware, by visiting ‘Report an Issue – CERT NZ

Report a privacy breach

To make a report about a privacy breach by an organisation or business, fill out the ‘Online Complaint Form - Office of the Privacy Commissioner’.