On cleaning up “fake news” on social media, Mr Albanese touched on the problem he encountered when men’s rights activist Leith Erikson doctored an image from his Facebook page.
“What was originally a graphic supporting Australians’ right to protest became a graphic pushing Mr Erikson’s loopy campaign against the Family Court,” he said.
Facebook declined to do anything as it was not a breach of its guidelines.
“Why do Facebook’s laws of the jungle trump Australia’s laws of the land?” he went on to say.
Algorithms and complacency from social media giants means that people’s views are becoming more polarised, often entrenched by fake news that is allowed to run rampant and unchallenged. We need to call this for what it is – a threat to our democratic process. pic.twitter.com/if9KOkYAW5
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) December 7, 2019
Mr Albanese also took aim at billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for failing to crack down on a far-right figure falsely attributing something to the Labor leader.
“The image even included my legal authorisation at the bottom – a clear breach of Australia’s electoral laws,” he said.
“When we raised this with Facebook, they shrugged. They said it wasn’t a breach of community guidelines.”
He says the increased volume of anger and misinformation is making the public’s poor opinion of the political system worse.
During the same address, the Labor leader set out a plan, which includes restoring integrity and accountability, improving the maturity of debate and making parliament work more effectively.
Political debate in Australia must move beyond Twitter trolling and anti-coal convoys towards a “proper, grown-up, democratic conversation”, Mr Albanese said.
“In a world that’s being revolutionised by science and technology, and threatened by a changing climate, what sort of country treats its scientists, educators and firefighters like enemies of the people?” he will say. “The answer is: one that will have fewer jobs, a lower standard of living and a more dangerous environment in the decades to come.”
He also pledged to work with media companies and journalists to enshrine law changes to protect press freedom.
Mr Albanese’s address echoed that of Labor national president Wayne Swan, who raised the prospect of breaking up social media giants like Facebook for spreading fake news and hate. The former federal treasurer hit out at internet behemoths for not addressing the spread of political misinformation on their platforms.
“Nothing – including breaking up the social media platforms where the concentration of their market power is damaging society – should be off the table,” he said at the same conference in Sydney on Saturday.
Mr Swan said social media giants should be recognised as publishers with the responsibility to ensure misinformation and hate isn’t spread. He also wants accountability for how platforms collect, store and use people’s data.
That includes who the companies are partnering with and how algorithms shape user behaviour.
Mr Albanese has also called for parliament to debate any decision to go to war, as part of a broader plan to improve trust in Australia’s democracy.
He will call for parliament to “at the very least” be allowed a debate any cabinet decision to go to war – something coalition governments have been reluctant to do.
“We can’t ask people to put their lives on the line if we as legislators are too afraid to put our arguments on the line. If democracy has real meaning, it is in moments like this,” Mr Albanese will tell the Towards 2022 forum.
Bob Hawke allowed two days of parliamentary debate after his cabinet decided to join the first Gulf War.