Google, Meta and Others Face Tough Questions in Australia Over Cyber Extremism Threats

People talking near a Meta sign outside of the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia’s online safety regulator has put social media giants on notice, requiring them to explain what they are doing to to protect people from violent extremists and terrorists.

The country’s eSafety regulator announced Tuesday that it had issued legal notices to Google, Meta, X, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Reddit requiring each company to report on steps they are taking to protect Australian users of their platforms from extremist material online.

Accessing violent and extremist content on social media has been blamed for the radicalization of the perpetrator of the 2019 Christchurch mosques shootings, which killed 51 people, and also a gunman who murdered 10 black Americans at Buffalo in New York in 2022. Both shooters also livestreamed parts of their attack online.

According to Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, the risk of terrorism and online radicalization remains high both in Australia and internationally.