As reported in Time on last Thursday, Australian lawmakers have determined that social media platforms are accountable for spreading content. The new bill means that if social media platforms do not remove “expeditiously” any violent content, they could be fined up to 10% of their annual profit, and the relevant employees could be imprisoned for up to three years. The violent content includes terrorism, murder, attempted murder, torture, rape and kidnapping. Although the regulation is an effective way to purify digital social media that it is able to reach other countries, such a scale of regulation could have the potential side effect of hurting digital social media industry. The rushed timeline did not even allow the stakeholders to prepare their own solutions for violent content. In addition, the new bill did not define “expeditiously” in terms of how fast the platform would have to remove the violent content. It is hard to measure where is the redline of violence. The independent member of parliament, Kerryn Phelps, criticized the bill as a “knee-jerk reaction”.
In my opinion, the new regulation has some great ideas that are applicable to social media platforms, but it still needs more consultation to avoid a hard landing. It needs more balanced opinions from social media stakeholders.