Social media told to be responsible


PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has called on social media platforms to demonstrate their commitment to countries they operate in and improve processes to protect vulnerable people in communities.
O’Neill made the comment during a week in which platforms such as Facebook have received global criticism for their lack of action to prevent intimidation, incitement to violence and social disharmony.
“The question has been put to me if these social media sites, as well as webpages with pornography and hate speeches, should be blocked from our country,” he said in a statement.
“In relation to social media platforms such as Facebook, they provide a lot of benefits to our people, they keep families and friends connected and are a great tool for businesses.
“But companies like Facebook, and internet service providers that carry their content, also have to take responsibility for their actions that cause harm to our citizens.
“Families have been broken, people have been killed and injured and businesses ruined.
“This is because these platforms continue to distribute content that would be illegal if it was to appear in mainstream media.
“If a newspaper, radio or television station ran some of the disgusting content, the threats of violence and the fake news we see on Facebook, they would face the courts.
“But these are multi-billion dollar foreign companies which are beyond the reach of our national courts.
“They make revenue in countries like ours, but do not pay a cent in tax, and leave behind a lot of damage to communities.
“Facebook does not even have a local office in Papua New Guinea, and that is an indication of how serious they are about making a contribution to our country, and to properly manage the sensitive issues that we are raising.
“As a responsible government, we must look at every avenue to keep our people safe.
“A total ban on platforms like Facebook is not in the community’s interest, and is not feasible.
“But we will undertake a review of how these platforms operate in our country with immunity from our laws, and their negligence when it comes to public safety.
“When it comes to pornography, or websites containing hate speech or promote illegal behaviour, our relevant government agencies will step-up their work with the ISPs to block content and prosecute those who break the laws of the nation.
“All online content providers must take responsibility for the content that they distribute, and to respect the rights of people to not be threatened or harmed in any way.”