The Australian government is considering a series of measures that would make social media companies more responsible for defamatory content posted on their platforms, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said on Sunday. “We expect a stronger position from the platforms,” Fletcher said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “For a long time, they get away with taking no responsibility for the content posted on their sites.”
Stepping up the debate over the country’s libel and defamation laws, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday called social media a “palace of cowards https://www.reuters.com/technology/australian-law-chief-wants -defamation-rules-fixed- internet-age-letter-2021-10-07 “, claiming that platforms should be treated as publishers when libelous comments by unidentified people are posted. Fletcher said the government is examining this option and the general extent of liability of platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, when defamatory material is posted on their sites.
When asked if the government would consider laws that penalize social media platforms for posting defamatory material, Fletcher said the government was considering “a whole host” of measures. “We are going to look at this. We are going to follow a careful and methodical process,” he said. “In many ways, we crack down on the idea that what is posted online can be posted with impunity. “
The nation’s highest court ruled last month that publishers can be held liable for public comments on online forums, a ruling that has pitted Facebook and news organizations against each other. It has also alarmed all sectors that interact with the public via social media and, in turn, has given new urgency to an ongoing review of Australia’s defamation laws.
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