Could social media be accountable for the spread of terrorism?

Social media executives may be jailed and their companies fined billions of dollars if they fail to remove terrorist material, like the Christchurch massacre live stream, under proposed new laws.

The Australian Government is pledging to introduce the Bill to Parliament next week after the tragic loss of 50 victims in Christchurch massacre.

Google’s sister company, YouTube enjoyed revenue of 192.7 billion during 2018 and could be liable to pay up to 10 per cent of annual turnover as a fine, which would encourage these social media companies to start investing in software to trawl for such content and delete them immediately.Executives based in Australia and overseas could also face up to three years’ imprisonment if actions are not set in place and this horrendous content continues to go viral.

The Christchurch massacre original video remained online 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. Penalising social media executives is a great way to reduce the amount of terrorist attack content being broadcast online, but we should also think about cultivating awareness.

It would also be a positive solution for the public to not view, share or promote the content of such attacks. Terrorists grow in numbers via publicity and propaganda, which means that not only does social media need to step up, but that the public needs to as well.

Facebook is under fire this week for sending ‘junior’ staff to the meeting regarding the proposed changes, and after the backlash, hopefully social media companies will respect the important need for change. There are steps being taken for the Government’s e-Safety Commissioner to be given the power to issue notices bringing the material to the attention of social media firms.

The Australian Federal Police would also be notified by companies if they are aware their service is being used to live broadcast violence and terrorism in Australia.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern says her cabinet has made in principle decisions around the reform of gun laws following Friday’s mass shooting in Christchurch.

This will be a long fight, but hopefully human decency will prevail.