Australia mulls measures of social media

Melbourne, October 10 (BNA) The Australian Minister of Communications, Paul Fletcher, said today, Sunday, that the Australian government is considering a set of measures that would make social media companies more responsible for defamatory materials published on their platforms.

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Fletcher said: “We expect a stronger position from the platforms. For a long time, they have been getting away with no responsibility for the content posted on their sites.”

In an escalation of controversy over the country’s libel and libel laws, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday called social media a “cowardly palace”, saying platforms should be treated as publishers when defamatory comments are posted by anonymous people.

Fletcher said the government is considering this option and the extent to which platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are generally liable when they have posted defamatory material on their sites, according to Reuters.

Asked whether the government would consider laws that would fine social media sites for posting defamatory material, Fletcher said the government was considering a “full package” of measures.

“We will look into that. We will go through a careful and systematic process,” he said. “In a whole range of ways, we are challenging this notion that what is posted online can be published with impunity.”

The country’s highest court ruled last month that publishers could be held liable for public comments on online forums, a ruling that pitted Facebook and news organizations against each other.

It has also spread panic among all sectors dealing 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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