Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that if Facebook Inc leaves Australia over rules that seek to hold the company accountable for defamation on its platform, it will demonstrate that it has no interest in making the online world safer.
Australia has proposed to make global internet corporations divulge the identity of people who have anonymous accounts when another user of the platforms accuses them of defamation. This new regulatory move by Australian authorities is the latest one in a slew of similar measures targeting to hold tech giants and social media companies more accountable for the content that are published on their platforms.
If Facebook, the largest social media firm of the world and similar companies fail to provide this information, it will be held legally responsible. The proposed law would also hold social media companies liable for defamatory remarks made on their platforms by publications.
When asked if he was concerned that Facebook would leave Australia because of the new rule, Morrison told Nine News that doing so “would be an admission that they have no interest in making the internet world safe.”
Morrison said that it was not free speech “to hide in your basement as a masked troll and abuse and harass and stalk people”.
“If you want to say something, then you should say who you are, and if the social media company lets you do that with a mask on, then we’ll hold them to account.”
There were no comments on the issue available from Facebook.
The parent firm of Google, which has recently been rebranded as Meta, has previously stated that it cannot reasonably be expected to monitor all comments on its website for defamation, and that it frequently has less access to users’ pages than the users themselves.
Representatives from Twitter Inc and YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, had no remarks on the proposed new law.
Twitter has stated that it complies with legal requests for user information on a regular basis, but that it recognises the significance of safeguarding whistleblowers.
Global social media giants threatened to leave Australia in February due to rules requiring them to pay media outlets for information that appears on their websites.
During the dispute, Facebook removed all third-party material from Australian accounts for more than a week before resuming service and striking arrangements with media companies to reimburse them.
(Adapted from NewsHub.co.nz)