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Australian Leaders Demand Platforms Curb Online “Misinformation,” Float Online ID and AI-Assisted Content Surveillance Ideas

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A number of Australian politicians, both those in government and opposition, are pressuring social media to demonstrate “more vigilance” when dealing with content related to the Sydney stabbing attacks.

This refers not only to mass censorship in the form of removing content designated as “misinformation,” but also to pushing for online age verification, with the incidents and the subsequent events utilized to give a fresh impetus to such broad policies.

And there seems to be a high degree of consensus, since the demands are coming both from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the leader of the opposition, Peter Dutton.

Albanese reacted by criticizing social media for not reacting fast enough to “protect users” and revealed he is “prepared to take whatever action is necessary to haul these companies into line.”

He was also upset that social media users posted – as they do – the videos they took of the incidents on their accounts “instead of forwarding it to the police.

Albanese spoke about the concept of a “social license” as something that social platforms are apparently granted in order to operate, and in line with this, must “start to understand their social responsibility.”

The prime minister previously described these platforms as a “scourge in many ways,” while the opposition, led by Dutton, brought up online age verification (digital ID) as one of the ways Australia can make its already highly controversial restrictive internet schemes even “better.”

Dutton wants new, and more stringent laws that would deal with “disinformation” and “misinformation,” and even boasted about his initiative to get the Five Eyes (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, US) to “exert pressure” on social media.

Dutton went for the excuse nowadays preferred by politicians trying to usher in more censorship – he explained the need for that pressure as a way to protect children online.

The opposition leader would also like to see AI “put to good use” by social media companies, namely to enable mass censorship, and is fine with harmless content getting captured in the dragnet.

“When they have that red flag, they should take it down. If there’s a hesitation of putting it up, if it’s an innocent graphic that they’ve caught, well they can rectify that…” is Dutton’s reasoning.

“Stronger laws” in the same context is an idea supported by Australia’s Agriculture Minister Murray Watt, who is also worried about “misinformation,” while Labor Minister Chris Bowen took aim particularly at X as “a cesspit of misinformation and violence” that “won’t be put up with.”

“We want to support the government (…) where it is effectively holding social media giants to account,” opposition foreign spokesman Simon Birmingham has said.

But Birmingham did add that they “don’t want a situation where the government sets up some regulator that has little control over removing that type of violent content, but ends up sitting in judgment about whether or not what people say in a political debate… is true or not.”

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