Xenophon wants parties to like social media ombudsman plan

INDEPENDENT Senator Nick Xenophon has called on both major parties to back his push for a social media ombudsman.

The South Australian senator first floated the idea of a social media ombudsman in 2010, after people posted pornographic and obscene messages on a Facebook memorial sites for two Queensland murder victims.

Kevin Rudd, who was prime minister at the time, said the idea was worth pursuing.

The ombudsman would operate through the Australian Communications and Media Authority under an amendment to the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act (2005), which Senator Xenophon plans to move immediately after the election.

He said Australians should be able to use the internet without the fear of copping abuse.

"It's about time Australians enjoyed the protection enjoyed by social media users in other parts of the world," said Senator Xenophon, who is fighting to retain his seat on Saturday.

"Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott - whoever is Prime Minister after the weekend - should urgently support this move."

In July, Senator Xenophon put Facebook and Twitter trolls on notice they would be subject to tighter regulation in the wake of an appalling case of online abuse in the UK, in which a woman was subjected to as many as 50 rape threats an hour via Twitter after launching a public campaign for a woman to be on a British bank note.

While complaints were made to the company in the UK, Twitter does not have an office in Australia meaning victims have limited avenues for redress.

"So many social media users in this country feel powerless to protect themselves from abuse, and it's about time that stopped," Senator Xenophon said.

"A social media ombudsman would be the best way of dealing with it, due to the myriad of platforms and systems that abound."

Senator Xenophon believes it's a simple matter of protecting freedom of speech.

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