Some of the world’s biggest tech companies were asked about policies and guidelines they believe are aimed at keeping users safe online.
Representatives from Google, TikTok and Meta – the company that owns Facebook and Instagram – were questioned by a parliamentary committee on Thursday over proposed laws that would hold them accountable for online harassment and abuse on their platforms.
The federal government wants to introduce laws to force social media platforms to remove offensive posts and, in certain circumstances, reveal the identities of anonymous posters.
Social media companies have said they have a business interest in keeping Australians safe online because otherwise they will lose users.
Lucinda Longcroft, Google Australia representative, said that when evaluating content, the company’s guidelines take context into account.
“While I may personally find content objectionable, our guidelines are enforced by trained trust and safety employees who review both the nature of the material … and the context,” she said.
Labor MP Tim Watts asked Ms Longcroft about Google’s ‘three strikes’ policy for YouTube, where accounts that post content against the company’s guidelines three times are shut down.
He referred to nine complaints he had made against videos on the United Australia Party’s YouTube channel.
He said six videos were taken down following the complaints, but the account was still active.
Ms Longcroft said that if multiple complaints are filed at the same time, they are combined into one “strike”.
Meanwhile, Meta policy chief Mia Garlick said all reports of Facebook putting profits above the safety of their users are “categorically false”.
“Security is at the heart of our business,” she told the committee.
UAP MP Craig Kelly – who was banned from Facebook in 2021 for posting misleading content about COVID-19 – said the company had “blood on its hands” for blocking treatment information from being published against the virus.
But Ms Garlick said Facebook would take the same action against a user whether or not they were a public figure.
“When it comes to harmful health misinformation (our policies) are enforced at all levels, regardless of who is making the claims,” she said.
Australian Associated Press