Australia to introduce new laws to force media platforms to expose online trolls

MELBOURNE, Nov. 28 (Reuters) – Australia will introduce legislation requiring social media giants to provide details of users who post defamatory comments, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday.

The government has examined the extent of the liability of platforms, such as Twitter (TWTR.N) and Facebook (FB.O), for defamatory material posted on their sites and comes after the country’s highest court ruled that editors may be held responsible for public comments on online forums. Read more

The decision has led some news companies like CNN to deny Australians access to their Facebook pages. Read more

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“The online world shouldn’t be a Wild West where robots, fanatics, trolls and others circulate anonymously and can harm people,” Morrison said at a televised news briefing. “This is not what can happen in the real world, and there is no way it can happen in the digital world.”

A man takes a photo on his mobile phone from the glass ceiling of a shopping center in Sydney, Australia on July 3, 2017. REUTERS / Steven Saphore

The new legislation will introduce a complaints mechanism, so that if someone thinks they are being defamed, intimidated or attacked on social media, they can demand that the platform remove the content.

If the content is not removed, legal proceedings could force a social media platform to provide details about the commenter.

“Digital platforms – these online companies – need to have proper processes in place to allow removal of this content,” Morrison said.

“They created space and they have to make it safe, and if they don’t, we will create them (through) laws like this.”

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Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Leslie Adler

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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