PM takes aim at ‘arrogant’ social media giants

Keira Jenkins |

Meta official Antigone Davis (on screen)  told an inquiry social media hasn’t harmed children.
Meta official Antigone Davis (on screen) told an inquiry social media hasn’t harmed children.

Tech bosses need to “fess up” for the damage their platforms have caused, the prime minister says, while taking aim at the “arrogant” and “out of touch” social media giants. 

Anthony Albanese’s comments come after Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, told a parliamentary inquiry in Canberra it didn’t think social media had harmed children.  

“Meta are showing how out of touch they are and how arrogant they are,” Mr Albanese told reporters on Saturday.

“Every parent knows social media can have a damaging impact on the mental health of young people, on social exclusion, on the bullying that can occur online, on grooming that can occur in a dangerous way online as well.”

Meta’s head of global safety Antigone Davis was one of the tech bosses to front the social media and Australian society inquiry in Canberra on Friday, where she was asked about social media’s impact on young people’s mental health. 

“I don’t think social media has done harm to our children,” she said.

“Issues of teen mental health are complex and multifactorial.”

Liberal MP Andrew Wallace told Ms Davis during the inquiry “you can’t be taken seriously … when you say that Meta products aren’t harming young Australians”. 

Ms Davis also told the inquiry she did not think Facebook or Instagram should launch age-verification systems. 

Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese has taken a swipe at social media platforms over the harm to children. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

She said age restrictions should be handled by app stores and operating systems rather than social networks, warning young people would try to evade strict rules.

Mr Albanese agreed the companies had been gaslighting the Australian public, saying they had shown a “contemptuous attitude” towards the concerns of parents.

“That’s why when parents are concerned about the impact of social media they’ll be despairing about these social media giants saying ‘nothing to see here, no problem’,” Mr Albanese told Weekend Sunrise. 

“There is a problem and they need to fess up to their responsibility for social cohesion.”‘

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