Wed, 03 Feb 2021 - 12:54
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Social Media Censorship

The Australian Government is committed to promoting the rule of law and the rights and protections we enjoy as a democratic nation. The ability of citizens to speak freely and openly is the hallmark of a robust democracy.

The Government’s position is that measures to filter, block or ‘take down’ content should only be used in circumstances relating to serious criminal activity, for example content that represents an incitement to violence, child exploitation and child sexual abuse material.

Social media platforms have terms of use which give them the right to remove content or suspend or block accounts if their terms of use are breached. It is not new for private corporations to make decisions about restrictions on what people are able to say. Our commercial television broadcasters, for example, operate according to the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice which they develop themselves.

Compared to traditional media businesses, social media platforms have, to date, shown great reluctance to take responsibility for what is posted on their sites. Requiring that social media platforms do a better and more consistent job has been a clear focus for the Australian Government. In December 2020, the Australian Government released an exposure draft of a Bill for a new Online Safety Act. The Government plans to introduce this Bill into Parliament in 2021. The new Act would include a set of basic online safety expectations, designed to make clear the expectations of the community as to what social media platforms must do to help keep Australians safe online.

Australia affords people the freedom to express their opinions through peaceful means, and encourages all individuals and organisations to engage with our democratic processes and to make a positive contribution to public debate.