Scott Morrison’s blistering attack on social media platforms ahead of G20 summit

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be asking fellow G20 summit leaders to back stronger accountability against social media platforms that target young Australians with “vile rubbish”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has launched a blistering attack on social media platforms as he plans to raise the issue with world leaders at the G20 summit in Rome over the weekend.

Mr Morrison flagged changes around digital accountability as he aims to crack down on platforms that enable anonymous trolling, targeting vulnerable people.

“I will continue to press, as Australia always has and showed the leadership on this issue globally, that we must hold social media platforms to account,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday. 

“Their publishers, not just platforms and particularly, when they allow people to anonymously go on their platforms and publish their vile rubbish, whether that be to really a young girl or target people online, or to push statements about people and to do so anonymously with impunity…

“That is not freedom of speech, that is just cowardice and we cannot have that turn out on our social media platforms to Australians in this country.”

The Prime Minister says Australia is leading the charge by raising the issue to ensure platforms are not used as a “weapon” by terrorists, using examples from the Christchurch mosque shootings in March 2019.

“We lead the charge with New Zealand and France after the Christchurch massacre, and I took that to the G20… to ensure that the Internet and particular social media platforms are not used as a weapon by terrorists.”

“But they are still being used as a weapon right now, destroying the mental health of our young people, destroying and it’s not on this country.

“The online privacy draft legislation that we’ve already released and people are aware of that today, that builds on so many things that we’ve already done to take down powers, the E safety commission, Australia is leading in this area and I’ll be raising that with other G20 leaders because we have to go further than we are now.”

The Prime Minister’s comments come amid his ongoing criticism of social media, saying earlier this month it had become a “coward’s place” where people could anonymously “destroy people’s lives”.

“People should be responsible for what they say in a country that believes in free speech,” he said.

“We value our free society. And in a free society, you can’t be a coward and attack people and expect not to be held accountable for it.”

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