Facebook is seeking to wash its hands of responsibility for online harassment.
Facebook is seeking to wash its hands of responsibility for online harassment.

Faceebook, Twitter told to do more to protect users

FACEBOOK wants to wash its hands of responsibility for online harassment or the broadcasting of abuse, recommending the Turnbull government makes exemptions in criminal laws for the "responsible intermediaries" of cyber-bullying.

But the government is distancing itself from those demands, with Law Enforce­ment Minister Angus Taylor telling The Daily Telegraph there were "high expectations of the social media industry when it comes to cyber-bullying".

"Companies like Facebook and Twitter are at the coalface and must be strong guardians of both privacy and safety," Mr Taylor said.

Law Enforce­ment Minister Angus Taylor. Picture: Kym Smith
Law Enforce­ment Minister Angus Taylor. Picture: Kym Smith

An alarming rise in online abuse - including the possibility that services like Facebook Live could be used to broadcast assaults - has led to serious concerns among police about how social media networks are monitoring potentially serious problems.

The Telegraph understands senior NSW police officers are worried there are few local staff who can respond to abuse flagged on Facebook. Facebook refused to disclose how many staff in Australia monitored content for bullying or abuse, or how much material was reviewed by a person rather than an automated process.

"We have real people looking at reported content," a spokesman said.

"This includes reviewers who understand local context because we know this is critical to assessing the meaning and intent of a reported post.

"It also includes experts in enforcement in areas like child safety, hate speech, counter-terrorism and legal specialists."

In a submission to the Senate's Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Facebook Australia's policy director, Mia Garlick, said there was a triage system in place to automatically weed out problematic content.

 

There are “high expectations of the social media industry when it comes to cyber-bullying” the Australian government has warned.
There are “high expectations of the social media industry when it comes to cyber-bullying” the Australian government has warned.

"Given the strong commitment of industry to promote the safety of people when they use our services, we believe that no changes to existing criminal law are required," Ms Garlick wrote.

"If anything, we would encourage the committee to consider carve-outs from liability for responsible intermediaries."

Mr Taylor, who is also Cybersecurity Minister, said the industry needed to work with all levels of government "to design their sites to prevent bullying and pull down offensive material as soon as it appears".

"Really great work is being done by the eSafety Commissioner with industry players in this area," Mr Taylor said.

Facebook is considered a Tier 2 social media network by the Commissioner, which means it is given 48 hours to remove cyber-bullying content. The Commissioner has previously revealed shocking cases of recordings of teenagers having sexual intercourse being posted on social media but not removed despite reports about the content to the network - it was only removed after complaints from the Commissioner.

It has subsequently reported a 63 per cent increase in complaints about cyber-bullying over the last year - including the sharing of revenge porn.



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