Yesterday, after months of public hearings with over 100 submissions from individuals, organisations and government bodies, The House Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety released its final report regarding social media platforms and online safety.
Key findings from the report:
The main takeaway from the report is that the safety of people online is being threatened by individuals who engage in harmful behaviour and conduct. The significant number of submissions received demonstrated the long-standing trauma suffered by victims as a result of online abuse and the desperate need for action.
As summarised by Committee chair Lucy Wicks MP, the report proposes a three-part response to the issue including; having social media platforms focus on user safety and enforce their policies; the government regulating and monitoring the sector; and users understanding that while respectful dissent and disagreement is a part of online discourse, abuse isn’t, and it should not be tolerated.
“The balance of responsibility for the safety of users online, which until recently has been primarily on users, must be flipped to ensure that social media platforms bear more of the burden of providing safety for their users.”
The report makes 26 recommendations in total, the most noteworthy of these being:
- Examining the extent to which social media companies actively prevent harmful attacks and providing the Australian Government with options for a regulatory framework, including penalties for repeated failures.
- Reviewing the use of algorithms in digital platforms to assess, for example, the types of harm and scale of harm that can be caused as a result of the algorithm used.
- Implementing a mandatory requirement for all digital services with a social networking component to set default privacy and safety settings at their highest form for all users under 18 (eighteen) years of age.
- The appointment by the Australian Government of a House Standing Committee on Internet, Online Safety and Technological matters for further legislation and monitoring of the online world.
- Increasing the reach of educational programs targeted towards both adults and young people regarding online harms.
A big step in the right direction:
The finalising of this report “was a crucial step to making online spaces safer”, Committee chair Lucy Wicks MP explains. Whilst there is still a long way to go in terms of the implementation of these recommendations, it’s very positive to see action being taken to address the significant issue of the safety of individuals online.
To read the full report, click here:
For our previous article on The Inquiry Into Social Media and Online Safety, see here: