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Australia passes strict punishment law for social media companies that host violent content

Australia passes strict punishment law for social media companies that host violent content
[Photo: Fabian Irsara/Unsplash]

Just weeks after the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, that was live-streamed on Facebook, neighboring Australia has now passed a law that holds social media companies and their executives liable for violent content that is not removed “expeditiously” from their platforms, reports Reuters.

Under the new law, it is now an offense for technology companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to fail to “expeditiously” remove photos and videos posted on their platforms that show murder, torture, or rape. Further, the new law says those companies must inform Australian police of the restricted content within a “reasonable” time frame.

What the new law defines as an “expeditious” and “reasonable” time frame isn’t stated—that’s something that will be up to juries to decide. However, tech companies that fail to meet the deadlines can be fined up to 10% of their annual global turnover and execs at the tech companies can be imprisoned for up to three years.

Announcing the new law, Australia’s Minister for Communications and the Arts Mitch Fifield said, “It is important that we make a very clear statement to social media companies that we expect their behavior to change.”

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