Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says the government is not joking about plans to regulate social media

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says the time has come to regulate giants on social media, after seeing a former Facebook employee highlight the dangers of the US Senate platform.

The company has been under scrutiny this week after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked tens of thousands of documents showing it withheld research into the damage of its products.

In Australia, the government is preparing to regulate social media, according to Joyce.

“The motivation is now there at the federal level in Australia, at the highest level in the US, in other corners of the globe, to say: ‘we’ve had enough, you can not treat us like fools. You think we’re making fun, it’s we do not, ”Joyce told ABC’s PM program.

“This time something will happen,”

Joyce said legislation to limit the power of giants on social media would soon be put on the table.

“It’s rare when a prime minister and a deputy prime minister, in a largely undescribed way, both have the same messages pretty much the same day, and then the impulse is there,” he said.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison marked changes to social media laws in Australia.

“Social media has become a cowardly palace where people can go out there, not say who they are and ruin people’s lives,” he said.

It’s personal to Joyce

Joyce said the passion for the topic of social media stems from his experience as a parent, and he expressed anger over rumors about his eldest daughter having spread on social media.

“[I’m acting] on behalf of every parent, for every mother, for every person who has had to deal with a daughter who has been intimidated, bullied, basically psychologically kicked to pieces by marauding and uncontrolled forces on the internet, ”he said.

A teenage girl looks at a bikini model on Instagram on her phone.
Joyce said his experience as a parent was part of the motivation to regulate companies on social media.(

ABC News: Elise Pianegonda


Joyce added that if social media was smart enough to make billions, they were smart enough to make their products more secure.

“We spend billions of dollars in Australia on mental health issues – Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms make billions of dollars selling a product that I think in many cases, if it were a food product, it would be taken off the shelf . “

Snapchat is taking action

Facebook and Twitter are not the only giants on social media facing scandals and pressure to reform.

Snapchat, the app where messages and videos self-destruct, has faced significant pressure to curb the sale of illegal drugs on the platform.

In some cases, prescription and party medications have contained counterfeit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 100 times more potent than heroin.

Snapchat on Friday stepped up efforts to eradicate drug dealers using the app.

The company launched a new training portal in the app called Heads Up, which distributes content from expert organizations. It has also rolled out a new filter that warns teens about the dangers of fentanyl.

Snapchat will dedicate an episode of its news show Good Luck America to fentanyl.

The Deputy Prime Minister said it was too little, too late.

“It’s fluffy prearication,” Joyce said.

“These people have been the recipient of the product they’re behind, and for them to come out now and say, ‘Oh, we did not know there was a problem with it, and we’re looking at it – it’s insulting.’

A Snapchat spokesman acknowledged that there was a problem with illegal drugs being sold on the platform and said the company had moved to address it.

Unlike Facebook, which commissioned research into potential harm the platform caused and kept it secret, Snapchat has been transparent with its research.

The company commissioned a study by Morning Consult, which examined 13-24-year-olds’ awareness of fentanyl and why they bought prescription pills.

Public health professionals have welcomed Snapchat’s initiatives.

Monica Barratt of RMIT University is an expert at the intersection of drugs and technology, saying that social channels should not only partner with drug prevention organizations to raise public awareness, but also reduce harm agencies.

“I think it’s great that they’ve backed it up by some commissioned studies there so they can see that there’s actually a consciousness gap,” she said.

“On the one hand, they should look at preventing this, but on the other hand, they could focus on safer use strategies. What to do if someone overdoses, how to access naloxone, which is available to reverse an opioid overdose .

“It can definitely save lives in this space.”

Can Big Tech Really Be Regulated?

Chris Cooper, CEO of Reset Australia, a think tank looking at policy solutions to regulate big technology, said Australian politicians should be encouraged by bipartisan support between Republicans and Democrats to bring about change in the United States.

“It is important for us to build on these moments and for our politicians to feel excited about this this week and have the extra confidence they now have that there is clearly a need to regulate and there is, of course. also appetite from the public for it, “he said.

A man is silhouetted against a video screen with a Facebook logo while posing with a smartphone
Whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before the U.S. Senate this week that she believed Facebook knew the company’s products were causing harm to users.(

Reuters: Dado Ruvic


Cooper said Reset Australia and whistleblower Frances Haugen both called for more transparency about the way social platforms control algorithms to shape the content Australians consume.

“We have called for transparency about COVID misinformation. Very simple legislation that could better inform the communication exchange about our spread of vaccines,” Cooper said.

He said Australia needed to introduce legislation to protect young people, e.g. Introduction of a child data code that would be similar to legislation introduced in the UK and Ireland.

“In practice, this means the maximum level of privacy. It does not mean recommending 40-year-olds as friends to 16-year-olds,” he said.

“It means ensuring that young people’s data is protected and managed well, and that young people have the opportunity to request the deletion of their profiles and for it to be simple and straightforward.”


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