CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s prime minister on Thursday described social media as a “coward’s palace” and warned that digital platforms including Facebook should be held liable for defamatory comments posted anonymously.
Anonymous commentators who use social media to vilify and bully have become the latest battleground between Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government and U.S. tech giants. The government wants social media users to be required to identify themselves.
Australia passed laws this year that oblige Google and Facebook to pay for journalism. Australia also defied the tech companies by creating a law that could imprison social media executives if their platforms stream violent images.
Morrison said platforms that do not reveal the identities of people who post defamatory comments should be held liable for those comments.
“Cowards who go anonymously on to social media and vilify people, and harass them, and bully them, and engage in defamatory statements, they need to be responsible for what they’re saying,” Morrison said.