Facebook, Twitter and YouTube execs face jail and multi-billion pound fines over terror videos

TECH TITAN TAKEDOWN Facebook, Twitter and YouTube execs face jail and multi-billion pound fines over terror videos

Australia could become the first country in the world to introduce prison terms if firms fail to speedily remove terror videos

By Jenny Awford and Paul Osborne 30th March 2019, 1:22 am

SOCIAL media giant executives could be jailed and their companies fined billions of pounds if they fail to quickly take down violent and terror-related content.

Australia could become the first country to introduce prison terms and fines if firms fail to speedily remove terror videos like the Christchurch massacre live-stream.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to introduce the new bill to Parliament next week after the slaughter of 50 people at two mosques was broadcast live on Facebook.

The proposed new laws would cover "abhorrent violent material", such as videos that showed terrorist attacks, murders or rapes.

The Australian government will seek to put two new sets of offences in the criminal code.

It will be a criminal offence for social media platforms, which as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, not to remove abhorrent violent material quickly.

The speed of the removal would be determined by a jury.


This would be punishable by three years in jail for Australian or overseas executives or fines that can reach up to 10 per cent of the platform’s global annual turnover.

Google's parent company enjoyed revenue of $US136.8 billion (£104.88) during 2018, meaning technology companies could be liable for billions of pounds if successfully prosecuted.

Platforms anywhere in the world must notify the Australian Federal Police if they become aware their service is streaming abhorrent violent conduct that is happening in Australia.

The laws will also give the eSafety Commissioner the power to issue notices that bring this type of material to the attention of the social media companies.

As soon as they receive that type of notice, the companies will be deemed to be aware of the material and the clock starts ticking for the hosting platform to remove the material or face penalties.

The laws will still ensure that news media can report appropriately on events which are in the public interest, without showing the violent material itself.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter were left unimpressed after a meeting with social media companies earlier this week, called in response to the live-streaming of the killing of 50 people in two New Zealand mosques.

“There are many actions we need to take to keep Australians safe in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attacks, and our government has been getting on with that job,” Mr Morrison said.

“Foremost among these is to recognise how social media platforms are being weaponised by terrorists.

“Big social media companies have a responsibility to take every possible action to ensure their technology products are not exploited by murderous terrorists.”

After the Christchurch attack, Facebook  revealed it had removed 1.5 million copies of the video of the terrorist atrocity in the first 24 hours after the shootings.

Politicians in the UK have also called on social media companies to step up efforts to tackle online hate.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “The big media companies certainly have to do more.

"As the world becomes more and more digital, we have to find ways of ensuring our digital environment is regulated as effectively, and behaves with the same standards and norms, that we would expect in the real world around us. That clearly isn’t happening at the moment.”


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