Meta Pushes Back On Australia’s Plan To Criminalize Harmful “Disinformation”

In response to the recent legislation by the Australian federal government aimed at curbing online “disinformation,” Meta, the parent organization of Facebook and Instagram, has voiced apprehension. It alleges that these rules could inadvertently allow the government to stifle speech. (That’s Facebook’s job of course.) The legislation, announced a month ago, is poised to equip the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with substantial regulatory powers. This includes the possible implementation of a state-supervised universal standard to combat disinformation and misinformation. Critics, however, liken it to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth,” as it grants ACMA the authority to mandate the removal of certain content or posts from social media platforms. In a Senate hearing on foreign interference through social media, Josh Machin, Meta’s head of public policy in Australia, proposed that while the company is amenable to partaking in a voluntary industry code, it harbors apprehensions about a compulsory state-led program. Meta executives foresee the potential for misuse of such powers, or a chilling effect on valid political speech online. Machin said that the law, “empowers the ACMA to, for example, develop binding standards around misinformation and disinformation with some very substantial civil penalties and also criminal penalties for individuals who are involved….We can see some potential for that power to be abused, or for it to be used in a way that inadvertently chills free and legitimate political expression online. We’re thinking through some constructive suggestions.” Notably, social media corporations risk hefty fines – $2.75 million or 2% of…Meta Pushes Back On Australia’s Plan To Criminalize Harmful “Disinformation”