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Calls For Facebook Royal Commission In Australia

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has called for a Royal Commission into Facebook’s impact on the mental health of young Australians, and industry bodies are backing this.

“The revelations to a US Congress committee this week position Facebook alongside the tobacco industry and James Hardie in their wilful blindness to the health impacts of their products in the pursuit of increasing profits,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology.

Lewis points out that 16 million Australians use Facebook, with 11 million on Instagram, and therefore any findings in the US hearings also apply in our country.

“Facebook hides the working of its algorithm, buries internal research and has limited the access to independent researchers. It drives a potent money-making machine but refuses to subject the algorithmic engine to scrutiny,” he said.

“It has shown itself hostile to business-as-usual regulation and has been prepared to leverage its power by blocking access to its services – something Australia witnessed firsthand last year.

“In this context an independent inquiry, with full judicial powers of discovery, seems the only appropriate course if we are serious about understanding the health impacts of Facebook’s business model and be able to recommend a comprehensive public health response.”

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