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Australia is considering measures blaming social media giants for defamatory posts

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CNN’s main Facebook page displays an error message when trying to access it from Australia, as seen in this screen capture dated September 29, 2021. Social media website / via REUTERS

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MELBOURNE, Oct. 10 (Reuters) – The Australian government is considering a number of measures that would make social media companies more accountable for defamatory material posted on their platforms, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said Sunday.

“We expect a stronger position from the platforms,” ​​said Fletcher in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison intensified a debate over the country’s libel and libel laws, calling social media “a coward’s palace” on Thursday, saying platforms should be treated as editors when defamatory comments are posted by unidentified people.

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Fletcher said the government had looked at this option and the extent of responsibility in general from platforms such as Twitter (TWTR.N) and Facebook (FB.O) when defamatory material was posted on their websites.

When asked if the government would consider laws punishing social media platforms for posting defamatory material, Fletcher said the government is considering “a whole range” of measures.

“We’re going to look at this. We’re going to go through a careful, methodical process,” he said. “We are going against this idea in a number of ways that what goes online can be posted with impunity.”

The country’s highest court ruled last month that publishers could be held liable for public comments posted on online forums, a ruling that has pitted Facebook and news organizations against each other.

It also raised alarms in all sectors engaging the public through social media and, in turn, has re-urged an ongoing review of Australia’s libel laws.

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Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Adaptation by William Mallard

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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