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back to article Australia on path to social media regulation

Australian MPs have started to call for legislative powers to compel social networks to swiftly remove offensive content, after Facebook failed to act decisively to remove a page containing numerous racist stereotypes of Australian aboriginals. Facebook initially did nothing about the page, which disappeared briefly and then …

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Silver badge

Shock news!

Australians like to drink.

Also, Brits, Germans, the Dutch

Ok, I didn't see the facebook page in question, except a blurry version from SBS, but I can't help thinking that it is a bit of a storm in a teacup.

If the background images had been Charlie Harper from 2 1/2 Men or one of the cast from AbFab, would it still have been racist? Or if it is racist, is it racist is in a way which is any more harmful than the term, "whinging pom"?

Yes its a bit offensive and not very funny, but trying to stamp out everything that is bad is a very dangerous road to go down. Of course, Australians seem to love regulation and bureaucracy so perhaps its just an excuse. I'm sure there are many governments around the world which are grateful to hear the cry of, "we need to regulate the internet!"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shock news No way

I can't see how new legislation is necessary for social media when there are already Laws in place to deal with this kind of offensive racism.

It's one of those knee jerk reaction statements from politicians trying to make a name for themselves.

The only Law I'd support, ban uninteresting people from social media sites. It would cut down on over 90% of the boring rubbish out there.

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Meh

Sadly

Censorship is already here.

It doesn't need extra Laws, because lets face it, how many times have YOU wanted to say something but have not said it for fear of any repercussions?

It is called self censorship because in the back of your mind you don't want to offend someone just in case they 'can't take a joke' complain to the police and you get a knock on the door and prosecuted for hurting someone's feelings.

Recently a celeb withdrew from a social media site because she could not cope with negative comments.

I'd say don't put yourself out there if your skin is that thin.

If I have offended you, well tough because you can't like everyone.

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Boffin

Re: Sadly

When will governments learn....You can't please everyone all the time. The idea of regulating whats on the internet is just dumb. In today's worlds of "Free Speech" you either agree with the speakers statement or think it a fools rant and choose to ignore the level of ignorance some people spout. It's still important that we as free people allow those who we feel are idiots...to express themselves. We can simply choose to ignore them. Ever heard the song "Sticks and Stones, but words will never hurt me...." I think its time our governments gave us more credit to self govern our own lives and they just need to focus on national security and ensuring we the people have a voice in whats truly important to the country as a whole. I don't see the need to censor the web...I will just not visit those sites I have not time for.

People make choices every day on their own....we don't need governments to protect us from this kind of stupidity. Unless the governments think its citizens are dumb fools and can't think or choose for our-selves.

When did self-reliance and self-responsibility cease to exist or be expected? Soon governments won't trust us to wipe our own behinds.

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Anonymous Coward

I saw the page

It contains offensive, racist jokes.

It does not however incite violence, and should therefore be tolerated in a free society.

It is sad when a large part of the population think we should legislate for nice behaviour, with no thought to the long term consequences.

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Anonymous Coward

News Flash

Not everything on the Intertubes is 'nice'.

A bit like life really.

How about we just not be offensive?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: News Flash

Didn't anyone tell you?

You have to be nice to people!

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Someone should tell the gov that regulating free speech to stop racist jokes about the natives doesn't make up for taking their land and treating them like shit.

Maybe they should look into rectifying those mistakes before silencing a few idiots.

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Coffee/keyboard

Yeah...

Just like the good old USofA have done with their indigenous population! Ain't gonna happen whilst there's money involved...

Keyboard because it was such a good joke it made me spray my coffee everywhere!

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Legislation?

I'm always wary of suggestions that governments need to legislate against this sort of stuff. It too quickly becomes oppressive.

It shouldn't be necessary as the currently available page (following on from the original, I suppose) is grossly offensive and must fall foul of Facebook's rules, as well as the law in most countries.

Just as we've experienced in the UK with trolls setting out to cruelly offend people who are suffering from a loss, Facebook is just too slow (or wimpish) to do something about it.

I agree with the quoted MP (!!) - Facebook "...have not yet adopted the standards of corporate social responsibility which longer-established media and communications companies meet ...".

If Facebook don't shape up then governments will slap restraints on, and we will all lose by it.

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Childcatcher

Re: Legislation?

"If Facebook don't shape up then governments will slap restraints on, and we will all lose by it."

Will we? It's mostly a load of shite on there as it is!?!

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@Steve Renouf - Re: Legislation?

I'm inclined to agree that what's on there is mostly shite.

However, amongst all the shite facebook does provide some real benefits - in my case the means to socialise with a widely-scattered family (I just turn off the shite if it gets too much).

For that reason I see a real loss coming if goverments are pushed by Facebook's own unwillingness to live up to their professed standards.

And if that isn't enough, consider that once a government starts to impose its will on Facebook it will surely go on to other social sites and thence to any site that allows people to express a (relatively) free opinion (like The Register).

When that happens we will all be losing.

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Devil

If in doubt

Legislate!

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WTF?

Fuck, I hope not.

I have to live in this country.

And to be honest, with Tony Abbott championing the canonization Andrew Bolt as patron saint of free speech, it seems very unlikely.

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Stop

"[Facebook] have not yet adopted the standards of corporate social responsibility"

Well duh, it's NOT a corporate environment, it's a SOCIAL environment hosted by a corporation. That, in my mind, is an essential difference.

I despise Facebook for giving a public platform to all the useless nonsense it contains. However, I will NOT agree that Facebook be condemned in any way for what its users publish. Let's not shoot the messenger, shall we ?

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Stop

Re: Let's not shoot the messenger, shall we ?

That's the big question - In carrying material determined to be offensive, are they innocent in doing that, or are they complicit in facilitating it, creating a joint enterprise offence?

If you are standing next to a person shouting offence, and repeat exactly what is said, would you expect to be able to rely on a defence of "I'm only repeating/reporting what they said"?

If faced with two people doing that, with the offence directed at yourself, would you consider only one offensive or both? If they both claimed they are simply repeating what others have said, is there no offence at all?

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Because banning black jokes...

...makes racism disappear.

Except it doesn't.

Seriously, I'd rather people be able to quite publically declare, if in a roundabout fashion, "I am a grade A wanker, please ignore me." UK "hate speech" laws are fucked up, and it's a shame to see Oz go the same way.

But hey, you can still take the piss out of ginger kids as much as you like, right? That's still funny, isn't it?

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Thumb Up

Re: Because banning black jokes...

It's worse than that. Enforcing anti-racist values by law casts the racists themselves as victims of oppression by virtue of removing their right to express themselves. I've observed people starting to express support for racist groups in unprecedented numbers, not because they're particularly racist in themselves, but because they're sick of the political correctness lobby constantly telling them how they're allowed to think and feel about their fellow human beings. And the moment you start legislating thought processes and emotions, which is what the PC lobby want to do, you make yourselves as bad as the racists you are trying to impede.

Not only that, but in my own life I have on a number of occasions encountered discrimination on the basis of my sex and my race and there's been nothing I can do about it. Why? Because I am a member of that ultimate source of all of society's ills - the ubiquitous, overpowered, evil and perverted white male. The PC lobby isn't about equal opportunity and fair treatment for all so much as it has become about a War on White Men.

No doubt the PC zealots (the worst of whom are often themselves wealthy white men seeking to reduce the perceived competition) will get stuck into me at this point, but the facts will bear me out - the lack of any existence in Australia and elsewhere of facilities to assist white men as specifically as there are facilities to assist women, aboriginals and non-white people, is all the evidence required to establish the pervasiveness of this systematic reverse discrimination.

I am reminded of that passage in Orwell's 1984 where Winston cries, "I hate purity, I hate goodness! I don't want virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone corrupt to the bone." This is because for him, the values of purity, goodness and virtue have been misappropriated to serve the agenda of his oppressors. Which is exactly what the PC lobby has done - they've turned the virtue of accepting people on their own merits into a weapon of hatred against white males.

I don't want to support racists, or sexists, of any stripe. I absolutely believe that freedom is founded upon treating everyone equally. I just as absolutely believe that civilisation can only achieve its full potential if every member of civilisation has the opportunity to realise their full potential. To discriminate on the basis of factors that have no bearing on ability is to waste resources, skills, and intelligence. But what the PC lobby is doing by discriminating against me on the basis of those same factors is forcing me into the same argumentative camp as those goose-stepping idiots whose wasteful, discriminatory values I equally despise, just to be able to assert my own dignity and rights as a human being.

Stop blaming white men for everything that's wrong with the world. Give us the EQUAL opportunity you give to everyone else, eliminate the evil of "affirmative action" and "hate speech" laws, and implement instead educational programs and assistance for those who are having trouble adopting the new ideals instead of merely punishing them. Then you won't be making underdogs and victims of the racists and sexists. You won't be reducing the essential values of civilised behaviour to hypocritical Orwellian false virtues. And the problems you are trying to eliminate will solve themselves by the simple nature of their inefficiency and the basic desire of every human being for freedom and self-determination.

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FB didn't bring down the site..

The page was actually removed by the author. I think he might have down this at the request of the authorities, though it maybe that he removed it after all the media attention.

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