AFL stars Adam Goodes and Tayla Harris invited to speak at new social media inquiry


Women’s footy star who was abused over her famous photo and AFL legend Adam Goodes are among trolling victims invited to speak about their ordeals as PM launches social media crackdown

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce inquiry into social media sites 
  • It will probe how they work and whether they need to do more to stop harm
  • Goodes and Harris are among stars the government will approach to participate
  • The inquiry will start in December and produce a final report on February 20


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AFL stars Adam Goodes and Tayla Harris will be invited to share their experience of online abuse at an inquiry into social media companies.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is on a crusade against Big Tech, will on Wednesday announce a parliamentary probe into online harms caused by social media.

Sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok will all be targeted in the inquiry, with a particular focus on children’s safety.

The inquiry will be similar to previous hearings in the US and Britain, examining how social media companies work and whether they need to do more to stamp out racism, sexism, bullying and hate speech.

Daily Mail Australia understands Goodes and Harris are on a list of stars the government will approach to see if they want to provide evidence.

AFLW player Tayla Harris made headlines in March of 2019 when this picture of her kicking a goal attracted hundreds of vile comments

AFLW player Tayla Harris made headlines in March of 2019 when this picture of her kicking a goal attracted hundreds of vile comments

Harris suffered horrific sexist abuse online in March 2019 when a photo of her kicking a goal attracted hundreds of vile comments.

‘Some of the comments made me feel physically sick. They are as disgusting as your wildest imagination,’ she told the 7.30 report last year.  

Goodes suffered ‘appalling’ racist abuse online after retiring from AFL in 2015 following two years of booing from fans for his outspokenness on racial issues.

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen will also be invited to take part.

Adam Goodes and wife Natalie are pictured in 2019

Adam Goodes and wife Natalie are pictured in 2019

Adam Goodes and wife Natalie are pictured in 2019

In a hearing in the US in October, the former Facebook employee alleged the social media giant fueled division, harmed children and urgently needed to be regulated.

‘I believe that Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,’ Ms Haugen told a US Senate panel.

In her testimony, Ms Haugen said there was a risk Facebook’s platforms were fueling a contagion of eating disorders, body-shaming and self-dissatisfaction that was particularly dangerous for young people.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his account that her claim the company prioritised profit over safety was ‘just not true.’ 

In a 2018 headspace survey of over 4,000 young people aged 12 to 25, social media was nominated as the main reason youth mental health was getting worse. 

Mr Morrison said: ‘Mums and dads are rightly concerned about whether Big Tech is doing enough to keep their kids safe online. 

‘Big Tech created these platforms, they have a responsibility to ensure their users are safe.’

He said the government wanted to ‘hear from parents, teachers, athletes, small businesses and more, about their experience, and what needs to change.’

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman said: ‘We can’t trust social media companies to act in the best interests of children, so we’re going to force them to.’ 

The inquiry will start in December and produce a final report on February 20. 

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen (pictured) will also be invited to take part

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen (pictured) will also be invited to take part

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen (pictured) will also be invited to take part

Mr Morrison (pictured on Tuesday) is on a crusade against Big Tech and social media platforms

Mr Morrison (pictured on Tuesday) is on a crusade against Big Tech and social media platforms

Mr Morrison (pictured on Tuesday) is on a crusade against Big Tech and social media platforms

Mr Morrison, who last year passed laws to make Google and Facebook pay media companies for using their news stories, will also on Wednesday release proposed laws to make social media companies ‘unmask’ anonymous trolls.  

Under the planned legislation, social media companies themselves would be responsible for defamatory content unless they hand over a user’s identity to the alleged victim of the trolling. 

The move will require social media companies to verify the legal names of every user in Australia. 

What will the inquiry look at? 

a. the range of online harms that may be faced by Australians on social media and other online platforms, including harmful content or harmful conduct;

b. evidence of:

i. the potential impacts of online harms on the mental health and wellbeing of Australians;

ii. the extent to which algorithms used by social media platforms permit, increase or reduce online harms to Australians;

iii. existing identity verification and age assurance policies and practices and the extent to which they are being enforced;

c. the effectiveness, take-up and impact of industry measures, including safety features, controls, protections and settings, to keep Australians, particularly children, safe online;

d. the effectiveness and impact of industry measures to give parents the tools they need to make meaningful decisions to keep their children safe online;

e. the transparency and accountability required of social media platforms and online technology companies regarding online harms experienced by their Australians users;

f. the collection and use of relevant data by industry in a safe, private and secure manner;

g. actions being pursued by the Government to keep Australians safe online; and

h. consider any other related matter.

Source: Notice of motion by Communications Minister Paul Fletcher 

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