Federal Parliament launches group to tackle social media concerns


Newcastle Federal MP Sharon Claydon has launched a new group in Parliament aimed at tackling the influence of ‘Big Tech’.

With former US President Donald Trump being banned from Twitter and Facebook temporarily forbidding publishers and individuals from sharing news on its site, the influence of social media has dominated headlines so far in 2021.

The new group, Parliamentary Friends of Making Social Media Safe, aims to establish cross-party conversations evaluating whether the Federal Parliament should introduce new legislation governing the online space.

Ms Claydon, who will co-chair the group, says she is excited about its launch.

“These platforms have made it much easier for individuals to be defamed and their reputations sullied; for vulnerable people to be bullied, harassed and exploited; and for coercive control to be utilised to instill fear in women,” she said.

“It has also created the conditions for entire communities to be maligned, victimised or persecuted; for the amplification of hate speech from far-right extremist groups; and for the glorification and incitement of violence.

“We can no longer ignore the very real threats that social media poses.

“Parliament now has an urgent responsibility to ensure that there is adequate protection for our people, our communities and, indeed, the very fabric of our democracy.”

Mallee MP and co-chair Dr Anne Webster said governments around the world had “not kept pace” with the increasing reliance on Big Tech companies.

“The problem we face now is that Big Tech companies are themselves responsible for determining their own limitations,” she said.

“They are acting as the moral arbiters of our society, which, I argue, is the role of a representative government, not a technology company.

“It is deeply concerning that many thousands of people who are attacked online and endure bullying and defamation lack the means to clear their name or protect their family.”

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