Social media giants X and Meta to be hauled before new inquiry as Federal Government prepares crackdown

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Credit: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, Stephan Savoia

Social media giants will be scrutinised in a new parliamentary inquiry as the Federal Government vows to make them accountable for online harm and misinformation.

Labor will move to establish a new select committee to examine the corrosive influence of social media on Australian society when Parliament returns next week.

The social media giants have put themselves in the Federal Government’s crosshairs with a series of provocative moves in recent months, including the decision of Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta to stop paying Australian publishers for news.

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Billionaire Elon Musk is also at war with eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant after she ordered his platform X, formerly Twitter, to remove videos of the stabbing of Sydney church bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this week suggested social media was to blame for the racialisation of young people in the aftermath of the Willetton stabbing.

The committee will be asked to investigate Meta’s decision to quit the News Media Bargaining Code, the role of media in countering misinformation, the impact of algorithms and the spread of harmful or illegal content, including child sex abuse and violent extremist material.

While the committee could attempt to haul Mr Musk and Mr Zuckerberg before the inquiry, it is likely X and Meta would send their local representatives when called to appear.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the social media giants operated with little scrutiny despite having enormous control over what Australians saw online.

“Social media companies have social responsibilities,” Ms Rowland said.

“They need to be more accountable and transparent.

“Parliament needs to understand how social media companies dial up and down the content that supports healthy democracies, as well as the anti-social content that undermines public safety.”

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones said social media companies were determined to wipe trusted news sources from the platforms, opening the “floodgates for misinformation and disinformation”.

“We have a clear message for the platforms. Be better. Do better,” Mr Jones said.

The committee will be asked to report back before the end of the year.

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