Unfriend War - Parliamentary inquiry into social media

Ashley Regan
By Ashley Regan | 10 May 2024

The federal government will set up a parliamentary committee to investigate social media.

The move comes after social media giant Meta is ending its deals to pay Australian publishers for their premium content and as the eSafety commissioner ordered X and Meta to remove violent videos following Sydney church stabbing.

The inquiry is expected to examine Meta’s decision to abandon payment under the news media bargaining code, the role of Australian journalism in countering mis- and disinformation on digital platforms, algorithm and recommender systems, effects on mental health and issues such as scams, age-restricted content, child sexual abuse and violent extremist material.

Communications minister Michelle Rowland unveiled a non-exhaustive draft, Joint Parliamentary Select Committee into the influence and impacts of social media on Australian society, for the committee this morning.

Rowland said social media companies need to be more accountable and transparent.

"Their decisions in recent months – particularly Meta’s decision to withdraw from paying for news in Australia – demonstrates the negative impacts these companies can have on our society," Rowland said in a statement.

"Social media has a civic responsibility to its Australian users – and our society more broadly. The government is committed to making social media companies more transparent and accountable to the Australian public, and the joint committee will enable parliament to undertake this task.

“The government will consult across the parliament on the final terms of reference ahead of an expected parliamentary referral next week."

Assistant treasurer Stephen Jones added that “the committee will put big tech under the microscope to help create a safer online environment”.

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