Facebook & Co Could Face Big Fines And Jail Time Under New Government Bill

The government will introduce legislation this week aimed at preventing live-streaming of violent crimes in the aftermath of the Christchurch attack.

Video of last month’s Christchurch terror attack was livestreamed on Facebook and footage remained on the site for over an hour – prompting governments around the world to criticise how social media companies respond to violent content on their platforms.

“It should not just be a matter of just doing the right thing. It should be the law,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“And that is what my Government will be doing next week to force social media companies to get their act together and work with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to defuse the threat their technologies can present to the safety of Australians.”

The government’s proposal would bring in a new taskforce to create a link between the government and social media companies. It would also introduce new penalties of up to 10% of a company’s annual turnover for companies who fail to act to remove “abhorrent violent material.” Under the Criminal Code Amendment (Unlawful Showing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Bill 2019 social media executives could also face jail time.

Attorney General Christian Porter said social media companies have a social responsibility that they have failed to meet in the past.

The new bill will also dictate that platforms anywhere in the world must notify the Australian Federal Police if they become aware their service is hosting “abhorrent violent conduct” happening in Australia.

On Monday, Facebook announced a new feature called “Why am I seeing this post?” that would allow users a rare insight into how its algorithm works.