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Australia passes law to hold social media companies responsible for “abhorrent violent material”

Apr 16, 2019 | Criminal Law

It has been just four weeks after the devastating mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Australis sets a world-first in passing legislation that governs the conduct of social media and online platforms.

On Thursday the House of Representatives passed a law requiring social media platforms to remove content that shows murders, rape, kidnapping, terrorist attacks and any sort of hate crime in Australia.

The House of Representatives went through the toughest legal measures to hold social media companies such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram accountable for the content that is spread on their platforms for a long period of time. As written in our article last week (hyper link to article) the Christchurch massacre original video went viral for over an hour after the attack. Facebook claims it had removed 1.5 million copies of the Christchurch video in the days following the attack.

If social media executives fail to remove such material after an acceptable amount of time then they could face up to a 10% fine of annual profits and/or jail time. Critics of the new laws, however, argue that the new social media laws could lead to media censorship and prevent whistle-blowers such as from exposing atrocities.

Others argue that the laws are a toothless tiger and that for the law to apply effectively, it should extend to individual users who share the footage.  Should anyone who shares such content also be held accountable? Wear a fine of 10% of their annual salary and also face jail time?


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