New Australian laws could see social media execs jailed over terror images

“Big social media companies have a responsibility to take every possible action to ensure their technology products are not exploited by murderous terrorists,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 March 2019
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New Australian laws could see social media execs jailed over terror images

  • Canberra is pushing for social media companies to prevent their platforms from being “weaponized” by terrorists in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks
  • Facebook said on Tuesday it was “committed to working with leaders and communities” around the world

SYDNEY: Australia pledged Saturday to introduce new laws that could see social media executives jailed and tech giants fined billions for failing to remove extremist material from their platforms.
The tough new legislation will be brought to parliament next week as Canberra pushes for social media companies to prevent their platforms from being “weaponized” by terrorists in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks.
Facebook said it “quickly” removed a staggering 1.5 million videos of the white supremacist massacre livestreamed on the social media platform.
A 17-minute video of the March 15 rampage that claimed the lives of 50 people was widely available online and experts said it was easily retrievable several hours after the attack.
“Big social media companies have a responsibility to take every possible action to ensure their technology products are not exploited by murderous terrorists,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
Morrison, who met with a number of tech firms Tuesday — including Facebook, Twitter and Google — said Australia would encourage other G20 nations to hold social media firms to account.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said the new laws would make it a criminal offense for platforms not to “expeditiously” take down “abhorrent violent material” like terror attacks, murder or rape.
Executives could face up to three years in prison for failing to do so, he added, while social media platforms — whose annual revenues can stretch into the tens of billions — would face fines of up to ten percent of their annual turnover.
“Mainstream media that broadcast such material would be putting their license at risk and there is no reason why social media platforms should be treated any differently,” Porter said.
The government was so far “underwhelmed” by the response from tech giants at their Tuesday meeting with Morrison, communications minister Mitch Fifield told reporters Saturday.
Facebook said on Tuesday it was “committed to working with leaders and communities” around the world to “help counter hate speech and the threat of terrorism.” The company declined to comment further on Saturday.
Cyber-security expert Nigel Phair cast doubt over the likelihood the proposed Australian laws could impose jail time.
Extradition is complicated and reserved for “serious criminal matters,” the University of New South Wales academic and former federal police officer told AFP, while Australian-based executives were not company “decision makers.”
“Jail is for violent offenders not a marketing representatives in Australia of an American social media company,” he added.
But Phair said social media firms can also do more than they pledged at the Tuesday meeting.
“They didn’t read the tea leaves then, it’ll be different how they read the tea leaves now,” he said.


Trump complained to Twitter CEO about lost followers -source

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 April 2019
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Trump complained to Twitter CEO about lost followers -source

  • Reuters reported in 2016 Trump had been angry with Twitter because it had rejected an advertising deal with his campaign

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump met with Twitter Inc’s Chief Executive Jack Dorsey on Tuesday and spent a significant time questioning him about why he has lost some Twitter followers, a person briefed on the matter said.
The meeting, which was organized by the White House last week, came hours after Trump again attacked the social media company over his claims it is biased against conservatives.
“Great meeting this afternoon at the @WhiteHouse with @Jack from @Twitter. Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general. Look forward to keeping an open dialogue!” Trump tweeted, posting a photo of Dorsey and others with him in the Oval Office.
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump suggested Twitter was biased against him without providing evidence. He wrote on Twitter that the company does not “treat me well as a Republican. Very discriminatory.”
Twitter said in a statement Dorsey had a “constructive meeting with the president of the United States today at the president’s invitation. They discussed Twitter’s commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 US elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis.”
Unlike other major US tech company executives, Dorsey had not previously met with Trump.
He was not invited to a December 2016 meeting with president-elect Trump that featured other major tech companies. Reuters reported in 2016 Trump had been angry with Twitter because it had rejected an advertising deal with his campaign.
Trump has been upset about losing followers.
In October, Trump wrote that “Twitter has removed many people from my account and, more importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join — they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all. A few weeks ago it was a Rocket Ship, now it is a Blimp! Total Bias?“
Any reduction is likely the result of Twitter’s recent moves to remove millions of suspicious accounts after it and other social media services were used in misinformation campaigns attempting to influence voters in the 2016 US presidential race and other elections, Reuters reported in October.
Shares in Twitter jumped 13 percent on Tuesday after it reported quarterly revenue above analyst estimates, which executives said was the result of weeding out spam and abusive posts and targeting ads better.
Trump lost 204,000, or 0.4 percent, of his 53.4 million followers in July when Twitter started its purge of suspicious accounts, according to social media data firm Keyhole.
Trump has one of the most-followed accounts on Twitter. But the president and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly criticized the company and its social media competitors for what they have called bias against conservatives, something Twitter denies.
Democratic US Senator Mazie Hirono said earlier this month “we cannot allow the Republican party to harass tech companies into weakening content moderation policies that already fail to remove hateful, dangerous and misleading content.”
Carlos Monje, Twitter’s public policy director, said at a Senate hearing earlier this month the site “does not use political viewpoints, perspectives or party affiliation to make any decisions, whether related to automatically ranking content on our service or how we develop or enforce our rules.”