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Social media executives are now liable for punishment for scenes depicting “abhorrent” violence that are not “expeditiously” removed, according to a new law in Australia. The significant shift can more easily turn erstwhile nearly untouchable online publishers into criminals for their being deemed as overly lax on oversight of material on their sites. While traditional media has long played by such rules, social media has been held less accountable due to the nature of running a sharing community in which everyone is a potential content provider, with allegedly fewer opportunities for effective checkpoints.

 

Large platforms need to more responsible, not less

 

The clear message the new legislation sends is that larger sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, with their many millions of members, need to see themselves as complicit with the shockingly easy available videos and rants of an extremely offensive nature. A platform’s large size, rather than being used as an excuse for the difficulty of effective monitoring, should be all the more reason for more effective checking for the appropriateness of information being transmitted on such a scale.

 

Higher technology, lower morality

 

While representatives from many in technology and social media companies have raised concerns about the legislation, Australian Attorney Genera Christian Porter said that just as TV stations wouldn’t be able to get away with showing footage of a murder, neither should social media. Punishment for people hosting a service and neglecting to take appropriate action to remove material can now face up to three years in prison, a fine of 2.1 Australian dollars.

 

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