Meta raises concerns: Australia’s misinformation laws risk abuse and undermine political expression

While Meta supports the enforcement of an industry code of conduct, it feels that the draft legislation goes too far and may limit online freedom of expression.

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Meta voiced concern over Australia’s Labor proposal to give the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) power to investigate and sanction social media corporations for disinformation and misinformation distributed.

The legislation, originally released in late June, will give the ACMA authority to impose a ‘code’ on specific corporations or an industry-wide standard, requiring them to remove damaging content or risk large fines, although individual posts will not be affected. These fines can reach up to 5% of the company’s global turnover, which, in the case of Meta, could reach 5.35 million US$, according to 2022 statistics.

Former deputy prime minister John Anderson and Meta’s Head of Public Policy for Australia Josh Machin warned against the potential dangers associated with such a move, like the suppression of ‘legitimate political expression’. The National Party politician predicts that Big Tech will self-censor in the face of criticism towards the time’s ruling spirit.

In a bid to alleviate the concerns of an Australian inquiry, the owner of Facebook, Instagram and new microblogging app Threads announced plans to label government-affiliated accounts – something Elon Musk’s Twitter removed during his takeover.

As of late, the United States government has also been caught up in a judicial back and forth over direct communication with social media companies and content moderation. Australian and US interaction with Big Tech indicate that finding a new balance between freedom of expression and online information safety may become a more politically sensitive issue.