The Government Wants To Lock Up Social Media CEOs Over Violent Content

The federal government is proposing new laws that would make it an offence for social media companies to fail to remove certain violent content on their platforms.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meet with executives from Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others to discuss the role social media played in the Christchurch terror attack.

Video of the attack has been littered across social media for weeks, with social media platforms struggling to contain and censor the footage.

In the first 48 hours following the attack Facebook says it pulled down over 1.5 million versions of the video.

In a statement, the Prime Minister said social media platforms needed to be stopped from being “weaponised with terror content.

“If social media companies fail to demonstrate a willingness to immediately institute changes to prevent the use of their platforms, like what was filmed and shared by the perpetrators of the terrible offences in Christchurch, we will take action,” he said.

Speaking to ‘The Today Show‘, Attorney General Christian Porter said questions needed to be asked of social platforms, and that further legislation was not off the table should they provide answers that are “unacceptable.” 

“Executives of social media companies have to abide by Australian law in Australia with some regularity,” he said, referencing laws that require social media platforms to remove and police things like child pornography uploads.

“And yet why is it that it will take Facebook over an hour to attend to the playing and livestreaming of even a mass murder.”

“We think that is a totally unacceptable situation.”

Porter would not confirm if the government would push for a ban on livestreaming altogether, but asked why television stations and more traditional media had to answer to penalties that didn’t affect social media.

“Why is that a television station like [Channel 9] will find itself with very serious penalties if it livestreamed a mass murder?”

“People use social media platforms for a range of economic and positive reasons but all news services… should be subject to basic standards.”

Facebook in particular has objected to being labeled a news service. Last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told American Congress that he considered the platform to be a technology company.

In the past, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has floated that the best way to screen out hate content on social media platforms is to “write an algorithm”.