On 21 September 2016, the Special Minister of State, Senator the Hon Scott Ryan, asked the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters to inquire into and report on all aspects of the 2016 Federal Election and related matters.
The Committee is conducting a review of cyber manipulation of elections, specifically considering:
- the extent to which social media bots may have targeted Australian voters and political discourse in the past;
- the likely sources of social media manipulation within Australia and internationally;
- way to address the spread of deliberately false news online during elections; and
- measures to improve the media literacy of Australian voters.
We believe that the clear risks which the misuse of social media pose to the integrity of our elections and public trust in our democratic systems means that political leaders should seize this moment as an opportunity to set the tone from the top. This should include:
- Removing the exemption for political parties, their contractors, sub-contractors and volunteers from the Privacy Act
- Implementing an “ethical pause” similar to what has been suggested by the UK Information Commissioner
- Developing a code of conduct for the ethical use of social media for political communication
- Requiring an “Impressum” section for Facebook pages
- Consider potential options to empower the AEC in the social media space.