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Govt launches parliamentary committee investigating social media

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The inquiry will examine a raft of issues including the mental health impact of social media algorithms and the spread of illegal content online.
The Government will launch a parliamentary committee to investigate the “influence and impacts of social media on Australian society”.

The Government will launch a parliamentary committee to investigate the “influence and impacts of social media on Australian society”.

The inquiry will examine a raft of issues including the mental health impact of social media algorithms and the spread of illegal content online.

It will also report on plans by Meta –which owns Facebook and Instagram – to pull out of a deal to pay news publishers for their content.

Here’s the latest.

The Govt vs. big tech

Earlier this year, Meta announced it wouldn’t enter into a new agreement to pay Australian publishers for news content posted to social media. The current deal finishes later this year.

This has led to concerns that news content could be permanently removed from Meta platforms, similar to a brief Facebook news shutdown in February 2021.

The Federal Government has also criticised X owner Elon Musk for refusing to remove footage of a recent stabbing attack in Sydney from the platform.

Parliamentary committee on social media

The committee will evaluate social media and its influence in Australia, including Meta’s decision to withdraw from deals with local news companies. It will examine the potential impact of a Meta news ban, including concerns of a rise in online mis- and disinformation.

It will also look into the role of online algorithms in spreading scams and illegal content.

The committee’s report will likely include recommendations to strengthen accountability and transparency on social media.

Government’s comment

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said social media companies needed to act more responsibly. She said the committee would investigate how the Government can make social media platforms more accountable.

When asked about the Government’s power to enforce regulations on global tech giants, Rowland told the ABC that “the world is looking at Australia right now” to do more in this space.

The Opposition has urged the Government to take immediate action to protect Australians online, instead of “months and months of inquiries”.

Opposition response

Shadow Communications Minister David Coleman has accused the Government of being “addicted to inquiring”. He called for age verification trials for all social media platforms to be rolled out as soon as possible.

It comes after the Government recently announced it would fund an age-verification trial to restrict some platforms, including porn sites.

Coleman said that excluding social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok from an age verification trial was “outrageous”.

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