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Australia is making ready for an additional showdown with Massive Tech — this time over defamatory posts

Minister for Communications and the Arts Paul Fletcher addresses media within the Press Gallery at Parliament Home on June 23, 2021 in Canberra, Australia.

Sam Mooy | Getty Pictures

Australia is making ready for an additional showdown with Massive Tech — this time over abusive, defamatory posts printed on their platforms.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher instructed CNBC on Wednesday the nation has been “on the forefront” of creating authorized and regulatory framework for social media giants, and plans to proceed protecting them accountable.

In a landmark resolution, Australia passed a law this year that requires Google and Facebook to pay native media retailers and publishers to hyperlink their content material in information feeds or search outcomes.

“Australia has leaned in on the problem of the regulation of social media, and we intend to proceed to take action,” Fletcher mentioned on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

What’s being proposed?

Canberra is contemplating a variety of measures that would maintain social media companies extra accountable for defamatory and abusive content material posted onto their platforms.

“We anticipate a stronger place from the platforms. For a very long time, they have been getting away with not taking any accountability in relation to content material printed on their websites,” Fletcher mentioned throughout an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday.

The federal government was “a complete vary of how” to crack down on the concept that no matter content material is posted on-line could be completed so with impunity, he mentioned.

‘Coward’s palace’

Final week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison described social media as a “coward’s palace” the place customers can conceal behind anonymity and “destroy individuals’s lives and say essentially the most foul and offensive issues to individuals and accomplish that with impunity.”

In such situations, the social media firms needs to be handled as publishers, he mentioned.

Australia’s highest court last month reportedly ruled that media retailers are “publishers” of allegedly defamatory feedback posted by customers on their official Fb pages — that leaves them open to defamation fits.

However that ruling didn’t take a look at whether or not Fb itself was liable, Fletcher instructed CNBC.


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