Australia’s PM Wants G20 Leaders to Help Him Thwart Social Media Trolls

Australia’s PM Wants G20 Leaders to Help Him Thwart Social Media Trolls
Image: Jeff Chiu, AP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison plans on taking his Australia vs tech giants thoughts to the G20 Summit, reiterating on Thursday that the rules that apply IRL should apply online.

The G20 Summit (the Group of 20 Summit) is scheduled for this weekend in Rome, Italy. It’s the first in-person gathering of leaders of the world’s biggest economies since the COVID-19 pandemic started. So, it’s a pretty big deal.

On the agenda is obviously opening the world up post-pandemic and most likely all things climate change, including our new net-zero ‘plan’, but Morrison is also going to push his stance on social media platforms.

Earlier this month, Morrison said he wants people to stop “being cowards” online, reigniting the conversation around cracking down on anonymous social media accounts.

“Cowards who go anonymously onto social media, and vilify people, and harass them, and bully them, and engage in defamatory statements – they need to be responsible for what they’re saying,” he said at the time.

“We’re responsible for the things that we say and that we do, but yet social media has become a coward’s palace where people can just go on there, not say who they are, destroy people’s lives, and say the most foul and offensive things to people. And do so with impunity.”

On Thursday, he reminded us this is high on his agenda as he prepares to meet with the G20 crew.

“We need to fully harness the benefits of digitalisation, but in doing that, making sure the rules that apply in the real world, apply in the digital world,” he said. “I will continue to press, as Australia always has, and show the leadership on this issue globally that we must hold social media platforms to account.”

According to Morrison, social media sites are publishers, not just platforms.

“And particularly, when they allow people to anonymously, go on their platforms and publish their vile rubbish – whether that is to bully a young girl or target people online, or to push defamatory statements out against people and to do so anonymously with impunity – that’s not freedom of speech, that’s just cowardice and we cannot have that thrown up on our social media platforms.”