Facebook, Twitter key to crackdown

FACEBOOK and Twitter are gradually coming to the table to help Australian authorities crack down on offensive social media sites, such as the Bendigo “Root Rate” page, Senator Conroy says.

The senator said he was confident social media companies would co-operate with Australian Federal Police and comply with local laws, as more Facebook pages come before the courts.

A number of offensive Facebook pages started locally have been investigated by local police after complaints explicit photos were posted of underage girls. 

The two creators of the “Root Rate” page that rated people’s sexual performance received prison terms, later reduced to Community Corrections Orders.

Senator Conroy said a renewed focus to get Facebook and Twitter staff working with the government was helping deal with the issue.

“We’ve now got a circumstance that our police are working closely with them and we’ve got a greater degree of cooperation than ever before,” he said. “Twitter have had to announce an Australian office because we’ve been campaigning. They are about to open and have some staff here... Facebook have staff here. Our courts should be respected by these companies that do business in Australia.” 

Education programs being rolled out across the country would also be vital to preventing the creation of these types of pages, Senator Conroy said. 

“We’ve got a situation where we must have greater education. This sort of behaviour is unacceptable in the real world and should be unacceptable in the virtual world. If you write it in the virtual world, you can get into trouble and courts are starting to enforce actions.” 

“It’s not just kids. This extends right through the community. People have got to understand that the way you behave online should be the way you behave in the real world.”

A “Bendigo Hotties” Facebook page that invited people to judge pictures of others, attracted more than 3000 likes before it was taken down last week.

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