Australia Demands Facebook for Legal Liability for Anti-Defamation Law

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On 29 Nov 2021, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that Facebook will show it has no interest in making the online world safe if it quits Australia over law holding it liable for defamation on its platform.

Challenging Facebook to Back the Law

In a recent piece of news, Australia has planned to hold the global internet companies accountable for the content published on their platform in order to make them share their identities of people with anonymous accounts when accused of defamation by others. Under the proposed law, if the social media company fails to provide that information, it must assume legal liability.

Moreover, the proposed law would make social media operators legally responsible for defamatory comments under publishers’ posts on their platforms. When asked whether he was worried Facebook might quit Australia over the new law, Morrison stated that in doing so, Facebook would be admitting that they have no interest in making the online world safe.

He further quoted, “It was not free speech to hide in your basement as a masked troll and abuse and harass and stalk people. If you want to say something, then you should say who you are, and if the social media company lets you do that with a mask on, then we’ll hold them to account.”

Response from Social Media Companies

Facebook—whose parent company has been entirely renamed to Meta—has previously said it could not reasonably be expected to monitor and scrutinize all comments on its website on matters of defamation. The company also stated that it often has less access to users’ pages than the users themselves.

Upon further inquiries on the proposed law, Twitter Inc and YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc, also declined to comment. Twitter stated that it routinely cooperates with legal requests for user identities, but that it values the importance of protecting whistleblowers.

About the Australian Media Law

In February 2021, global social media companies threatened to quit Australia over laws making that demanded them to pay media outlets for the content appearing on their websites. The Australian parliament passed a landmark media law that made Google and Facebook pay news publishers for displaying their content. The legislation was designed to support Australian public interest journalism and backed by all the nation’s media companies—big or small. As a result, Facebook threatened to block Australians from sharing news. Google also ran a public campaign against the media code arguing it was unfair and that it would “break search”. Despite protestations from both companies, the Australian parliament was determined to pass legislation it says is needed to boost public interest journalism. However, Facebook cut off all third-party content from Australian accounts for over a week before resuming its service and striking deals to pay media providers.

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West has been driving the business world owing to its developed economies. The leading part of the world is straining to sustain its dominance. However, the other parts of the world, especially Asia Pacific region have been displaying escalating growth in terms of business and technological advancements.

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