Australia Policies Affecting Disinformation

From ADTAC Disinformation Inventory


The Australian Government and Parliament has taken legislative actions against disinformation, including the Electoral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017, which created more stringent authorizations on campaign advertising via social media posts, in line with requirements for other media under electoral law.[1]

Australia has laws which regulate content on social media. However these laws typically pertain to violent or "illegal and harmful" material.[2] The 2018 Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act (TOLA) requires that social media companies supply technical assistance including decryption to law enforcement.

The Australian Government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code in February 2021 which will force Facebook and Google to pay Australian news companies for news which they put on their sites however the law is not yet in effect.[3] Google reached a deal with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, and while Facebook initially restricted news shown on the site as a response to the policy. This move by Facebook led to outcry and Facebook was accused of abusing their power by restricting access to news as the decision affected charity and government pages, emergency announcements and other important information channels.[4][5] Facebook has since reversed its restriction.[6]

Actions and Campaigns

In June 2018, the Australian government set up the Electoral Integrity Task force to guard against cyber attacks, interference in elections, electoral fraud and disinformation.[7]

Before the 2019 federal election, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) launched the "Stop and Consider" campaign aimed at encouraging voters to take into consideration the validity of electoral communication. The AEC also engaged with social media companies to ensure compliance with electoral law.[8]

Australia has established a "myth busting unit" to tackle COVID-19 disinformation, particularly related to the vaccine roll-out.[9]

Platform Actions

In 2019, Twitter and Facebook released policies regarding Australian political advertising. Facebook stated that it would ban electoral ads purchased in foreign countries. Facebook partnered with a fact-checking organization, and ensured that the algorithm decreased the reach of articles labeled false. Twitter mandated that political campaigns with advertisements apply for certification with the company, and comply with Australian disinformation laws. Twitter did not allow for ads to be paid for with foreign payment methods.[10]

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National Policies Affecting Disinformation