Facebook and Youtube on notice as Australia leads global fight against online terrorism

Facebook and Youtube on notice as Australia leads global fight against online terrorism
  • The Group of 20 (G20) summit concluded in Osaka on Saturday with world leaders issuing a formal statement urging social media platforms to do better when it comes to the broadcasting of terrorism and extremism online.
  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who led the calls, told reporters the message was clear to Facebook and others “to get this right”.
  • Demands for action have grown since the Christchurch massacre, which claimed 51 lives, was broadcast online. The response from social media platforms was criticised as slow and ineffectual.
Surrounded by world powers at the G20, many of which dwarf it by size and influence, Australia can seem like a small fish in a big pond.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, however, will chalk up this year’s event in Osaka, Japan as a relative success.

Morrison emerged from the summit having rallied together an international coalition that has the world’s biggest social media platforms in its sights.

With footage of the Christchurch massacre broadcast on Facebook, Youtube and other social media platforms for months after the act, nations rallied together to demand better.

“We urge online platforms to step up the ambition and pace of their efforts to prevent terrorist and VECT (violent extremism conductive to terrorism) content from being streamed, uploaded, or re-uploaded,” the G20 leaders said in a statement released on Saturday.


“We strongly encourage a concerted effort to set out, implement and enforce terms of service to detect and prevent terrorist and VECT content from appearing on their platforms.”

The G20 statement suggested that at its heart, social media platforms are expected to develop technology which will allow them to quickly identify extreme content, prevent its proliferation, and record who uploaded it so as to persecute offenders.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received international praise for her response to the attacks, which saw her implement strict gun controls and kick off efforts to make tech leaders act.

At the G20 however, it was Morrison who took up Ardern’s call for action, persuading leaders to make a stand.

“This sends a clear message, and the impetus of this is to say to the companies, ‘You have the technology, you have the innovation, you have the resources, and now you have the clear communicated will of the world’s leaders that you need to apply that to get this right’,” Morrison told reporters in Osaka.

Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel all spoke in support of the statement.

It comes as Australia released its own national recommendations in a reportthat Morrison said he would share with other leaders.

Those recommendations include developing the technical abilities to block content and access to it, improving user reporting, and accelerating reviews of extreme material.

It also outlined greater interaction between government and the tech industry, including the creation of crisis protocol for dealing with emergency incidents like Christchurch, as well as enforcing routine reporting.

How receptive social media platforms will be to pressure from governments and what they will be able to implement remains unclear.