The Federal government’s plans to enforce reporting protocols for social media companies has been met with some confusion.
The government has been revising social media protocols since the Christchurch terror attacks were live-streamed on Facebook earlier this year, forming a task force to address the issue with members from Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft, Twitter, Telstra and Optus all included.
At the G7 on Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the development of voluntary transparency reporting protocols for social media companies, to be funded by $300,000 from the government and an undisclosed sum from the OECD.
The government says this is to help these companies prevent, detect, and remove terrorist and violent extremist content.
“This work will establish standards and provide clarity about how online platforms are protecting their users, and help deliver commitments under the Christchurch Call to implement regular and transparent public reporting in a way that is measurable and supported by clear methodology,” said Morrison.
And while the move is intended to create a safer environment online, it is something which social media companies like Facebook and Twitter already do.
Both Facebook and Twitter publish bi-annual or quarterly transparency reports on the content they remove from their platforms.
Facebook’s most recent report revealed the company ‘actioned’ 6.4m pieces of content relating to terrorist propaganda in Q1 2019 and 4m it deemed as hate speech.
A Twitter spokesperson told the media technology catches the majority of the content that needs to be removed.
“During the last reporting period, a total of 166,513 accounts were suspended for violations related to promotion of terrorism, which is a reduction of 19 per cent from the volume shared in the previous reporting period,” the spokesperson said.
“Of those suspensions, 91 per cent consisted of accounts flagged by internal, purpose-built technological tools. The trend we are observing year-on-year is a steady decrease in terrorist organisations attempting to use our service.”
It is unclear how the new voluntary transparency reporting protocols will differ from Facebook and Twitter’s current reporting systems.