Parliamentary Friends of Making Social Media Safe launches in Canberra

  • Media Release
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The Parliamentary Friends of Making Social Media Safe was launched in Canberra this morning by Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland.

Reset Australia was proud to sponsor the launch event, which was attended by a range of MPs and Senators including co-chairs Dr Anne Webster and Sharon Claydon.

Guests were addressed by Damian Collins, who has served as the Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe in Britain since 2010. Mr Collins oversaw the UK’s inquiry into disinformation and fake news - including Cambridge Analytica. His work in that inquiry led to the publication of the Government’s Online Harms White Paper, and subsequent Online Harms Bill which lays out a world-leading package of safety measures.

“It was hugely encouraging to see so many parliamentarians from across the political spectrum united in their desire to make social media safe,” Reset Australia executive director Chris Cooper said.

“A special shout out is due to Facebook, of course, for emphatically highlighting the importance of this issue leading into today’s launch. Although a shame they saw fit to withdraw their RSVP to the event at the eleventh hour.

“Of course the design features, the business model, and the scale of these platforms has created unprecedented power over the functioning of our society. Decisions made by Big Tech bosses can undermine the roll out of vaccines, enable foreign interference in elections, amplify racist and sexist hate speech, and addict anxiety-ridden young people.

“We know these platforms have now built deep data profiles on most of us capable of manipulating our behaviour. Indeed, Facebook’s own reporting shows that two-thirds of people in extremist groups were nudged to join by their algorithms.

“All of these personal, social and economic harms happen without accountability or recourse for the victims.

“The only power capable of reining in the influence and harms of the platforms is Parliament. The idea that these companies are too big, too powerful, and too new to regulate - is simply inaccurate. Government can and should regulate in the same way other society-changing industries have been regulated in the past.

“We need new rules that mitigate harms without stifling Australian innovation and growing technology industries. Just as we did with seatbelts in cars, or plain packaging tobacco laws, Australia can once again be a leader in regulating industry to act in the public interest.

“Reset Australia looks forward to supporting the Parliamentary Friends of Making Social Media Safe from this point forward.”

Contact: Chris Cooper 0403 353 621 / Anil Lambert 0416 426 722