The BGA Australia Team, led by Managing Director Michael “Mick” McNeill, wrote an update on Australia’s impending crackdown on social media misinformation.


  • The Australian government is preparing to fortify laws related to misinformation and online safety following two recent knife attacks in Sydney. X, formerly known as Twitter, has been slammed by the government and opposition for its defiance of takedown orders. Meanwhile, the focus on misinformation posted on Facebook following the attacks has strengthened authorities’ resolve to protect local journalism and use the News Media Bargaining Code to force Meta to the bargaining table with news businesses.

  • The two unrelated stabbings in Sydney on April 13 and 15 — the first at a shopping center and the second at a church — have stirred political and public concern over the behavior of journalists and social media companies. The misidentification of perpetrators and hosting of horrific videos has hardened the government’s determination to confront social media companies. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has expressed concern“about the role of social media, including the publication of videos that can be very harmful, particularly for younger people who have access.”


  • The eSafety Commissioner, which has powers under the Online Safety Act 2021, has issued notices to Meta and X to remove videos and imagery of the April 15 stabbing of an Assyrian Orthodox Assyrian Christian leader. While it appears Meta has been cooperative, X’s global affairs account posted it would “robustly challenge” the “unlawful and dangerous” takedown order. It is important to note that the eSafety Commissioner’s formal order applied to visual depictions of the incident and not commentary about it. The eSafety Commissioner won an injunction in the Federal Court April 22 to force X to hide videos of the church stabbing.
  • Albanese said it was “extraordinary that X chose not to comply and are trying to argue their case.” The opposition backed the government and the eSafety Commissioner. The government is reviewing the effectiveness of the Online Safety Act 2021 and whether additional protections are needed for harmful online material such as hate speech and image-based abuse. A final report will be provided to the government in the second half of 2024.
  • The government is drafting legislation that would empower the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to hold digital platforms accountable for harmful misinformation and disinformation online. Communications Minister Rowland said the attacks highlighted the “importance of digital platforms having systems and processes in place to address seriously harmful misinformation and disinformation on their services.” Rowland has committed to presenting a bill to Parliament this year. The new laws are intended to strengthen and support the voluntary code arrangements undertaken by industry through the Digital Industry Group Inc., which the government believes is inadequate on its own.


  • The proposed framework does not apply to professional news content or authorized electoral content, and it does not empower the ACMA to determine what is true or false or remove individual content or posts. The opposition previously expressed concern that the definition of misinformation is so broad that it could capture many statements Australians make in the context of political debate. It also worries that digital companies would self-censor to avoid the risk of massive fines. Following the attacks, however, the opposition has indicated a willingness to negotiate with the government.
  • Companies should expect significant legislative reform to address these issues this year. Australia’s social cohesion is under strain, particularly in relation to events in the Middle East, and an election will be called within the next 12 months. Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said April 22 that a group of ministers is working to counter the “vectors for harms” on digital platforms, including algorithms that amplify claims made by distressing or false content.

We will continue to keep you updated on developments in Australia as they occur. If you have any questions or comments, please contact BGA Australia Managing Director Michael “Mick” McNeill at

Best regards,

BGA Australia Team