Prime Minister calls on social media giants to ban violent video

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: AAP
Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: AAP

IF social media giants can build algorithms to sell ads, Scott Morrison says they can find ways to stop terrorists spreading horrifically violent videos.

The prime minister wants G20 nations to consider practical ways to force companies like Facebook and Google to stop broadcasting atrocities and violent crimes.

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NSW man Brenton Tarrant has been charged with murder following the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch which killed 50 people and left another 50 injured.

The attack was live-streamed on Facebook.

Scott Morrison at Lakemba Mosque on Saturday. Photo: AAP

“These social media companies have built this technology. They’ve created these capabilities,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Adelaide on Tuesday.

“If you can write an algorithm to make sure that the ads they want you to see can appear on your mobile phone, then I’m quite confident they can write an algorithm to screen out hate content on these social media platforms.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten agreed.

“I do not believe it is beyond the technological capacity of some of the richest, largest, most powerful, cleverest, most sophisticated businesses in the world, not to be able to better monitor the material before they publish it,” he told reporters in Western Australia.

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Mr Morrison argued the global community needs to ensure tech companies meet their moral obligation to serve communities they profit from.

The prime minister wrote to G20 2019 president, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, calling for agreement on “clear consequences” for social media companies.

Tarrant, 28, was not on any security watchlist in Australia or New Zealand, despite online profiles linked to him containing material promoting white supremacist views.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her government did all it could to remove online footage after the attack but it was up to the digital platforms to make sure it was deleted.

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Facebook said it took down 1.5 million copies of the footage and authorities were last week left scrambling to stop its spread across the internet on Twitter, Google and elsewhere.

Social media expert Damien Spry, who lectures at the University of South Australia, said Facebook had struggled to cope with the popularity of its live broadcasts.

“Once it is uploaded then it’s almost impossible to take it down before it at least gets spread to a few other users,” he told ABC Radio National.

Mr Shorten said the need to improve social media didn’t mean political leaders could get away with dog-whistling to racists about immigration.

“The crazies, the extremists, they take comfort when there is approval given to go down this slippery path of starting to bag immigration,” he said.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said debate about social media should not be used to absolve politicians and mainstream media from their responsibility not to fuel hate speech.

– AAP