Aus Gov and social media flag further changes to laws and the platforms to address user safety

Social media outlets Facebook and Twitter have confirmed that they are undertaking further reviews and strengthening “controls” to address concerns about the respective platforms as political pressure mounts.

On the weekend Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg , told media that Facebook’s Instagram is working on a ‘take a break’ feature with a timeline for implementation and more details to be shared in the near future.

On Thursday Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce called for a crackdown on misinformation on social media.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded by telling media that the government was focused on “holding big social media companies to account whether it’s paying their taxes, doing the right thing in terms of competition… and indeed in stopping bullying and harassment”.

He stated: “…as the Attorney General has indicated, you know, cowards who go anonymously on to social media and vilify people and harass them and bully them and engage in defamatory statements. They need to be responsible for what they’re saying.

“We all know who each of us are. We’re responsible for the things that we say and that we do. But yet social media has become a coward’s palace where people can just go on there, not say who they are, destroy people’s lives and say the most foul and offensive things to people and do so with impunity.

“They should have to identify who they are and you know, the companies, if they’re not going to say who they are, well, they’re not a platform anymore. They’re a publisher. They’re a publisher.”

A Facebook spokesperson said in response to the comments: “We support modernisation of Australia’s uniform defamation laws and hope for greater clarity and certainty in this area. Recent court decisions have reaffirmed the need for such law reform, and we’ve taken steps to introduce new controls to support users managing conversations on Facebook. We are engaging with the broader industry on the review of defamation laws established by state, territory and federal Attorneys General.”

Twitter spokesperson commented: “As a global company, Twitter exercises due diligence with respect to local laws in jurisdictions around the world, and duly reviews all legal requests. As a platform, we support the swift removal of illegal content while balancing the need to protect freedom of expression. Anonymity or pseudonymity is not a shield against Terms of Service violations, and Twitter will take action against any accounts that are in violation of the Twitter Rules. There is no room for abuse and harassment on our platform, and we make ongoing investments in this area to keep our users safe.”

TikTok did not respond to Mumbrella’s request for comment in time for publication.


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