“There are many actions we need to take to keep Australians safe in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attacks, and our government has been getting on with that job. First and foremost, among these is to recognize how social media platforms are being weaponized by terrorists. Large social media companies have a responsibility to take every possible action to ensure their technology products are not exploited by murderous terrorists.” Scott Morris said. The Australian Prime Minister spoke to the press in light of the live stream terror attack that left 50 people dead at Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15th, 2019.
The heart-wrenching massacre
The terrible incident left the Australian government enraged and decided to take necessary measures to avoid such a horrific ordeal in future. The government’s primary concern was that the live stream went on for over an hour while the aghast citizens watched bewildered. According to Cloudwedge.com, the live stream was viewed over 4,000 times! It was later on shared worldwide before being pulled down. This begs the question, should social media platforms be penalized for the failure of not speedily removing violent content?
The Law against Violent Social Media Content
Australia has gone down in history as the first country to pass a law of this kind. The Australian government passed this law that has left major social media houses disgruntled; the law will see to it that they are penalized for not pulling down extremist content with the rapidity that is required. This law will introduce hefty fines and jail terms for those found guilty. The government sought to include two offences in the penal code during their last week of parliament before their federal election. The law states the following:
– It would be a criminal offence for social media sites not to remove repulsive content with speed. Such content includes rape, killing, attempted murder, torture, terrorism and kidnapping on social media sites.
– The jury shall determine the speed by which the material was removed.
– Australians and overseas executives found guilty of this offence shall be jailed for three years
– The social media sites that refuse to pull down such content shall be fined 10% of its global turnover
– It will be imperative for social media sites worldwide to alert the Australian Federal Police if they come across such content streaming in Australia.
– The e-Safety Commissioner shall be given authority to inform any social media platform of such content. It will then be obliged to pull it down immediately.
– The law shall ensure that media houses are free to report news of public interest but should omit violent footage
Sky News Australia went ahead to air the live stream after the Australian Police urged media houses not to. Such a law can inhibit the media’s independence. The law was passed within five days, despite an outburst from tech companies and Australians who feel that this law violates their freedom of speech.
A crack in this law is that these social media sites will not be able to completely takedown all the offensive content on time. ‘’On time’’ as defined by a jury. Tech giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon, warned that this move would strain Australia’s relationship with the world as the scrutiny of content and criminalization of the offenders without their knowledge would be unacceptable.
Britain issued a stern warning to social media companies to ensure abhorrent content is taken down immediately or would face hefty fines. Will holding social media companies accountable for the content being streamed become a concept that is accepted worldwide?