Foreign social media meddling in spotlight

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Foreign influence and interference through social media to undermine democracy and silence dissenters will go under the spotlight.

Senators agreed to re-establish a committee to review how social media platforms based in authoritarian countries like China and Russia pose a risk to national security.

Platforms include TikTok and WeChat.

The committee will also look at how social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are being used in a nefarious way by countries like China and Russia to spread disinformation.

It will then come up with policy recommendations for the government.

Liberal senator James Paterson said the ongoing weaponisation of social media, such as to harass and intimidate activists speaking out against abuse in countries like Iran, needed to be addressed.

“Australia led the world with its foreign interference, espionage and influence reforms of 2018, which are now being adopted by like-minded countries around the world,” he said.

“But cyber-enabled foreign interference is a unique challenge which requires further reforms.”

The committee will report by August 1, 2023.


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