Twitter move to Australia 'imminent'

Summary:Australian Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop has said that Twitter will shortly open its first Australian office.

Social networking giant Twitter is being tipped to "imminently" open its first Australian corporate office as part of plans to help combat cyber bullying and deepen ties with the federal and state governments.

Federal politicians have for months been lobbying the company to launch a full-time presence in Australia to make it easier for police officers to engage with the company.

Speaking after a visit to Twitter's US headquarters on Friday, Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop said she understood that the move was "imminent."

"That's what they told us today — they'd be opening an office in Sydney," she told AAP. "Facebook has a presence in Australia, and it's clear Twitter is about to establish one."

Ms. Bishop said that it was "essential" for social networking companies to deepen ties with Australian governments and authorities.

Twitter did not immediately confirm the move to AAP.

A new Australian corporate presence is likely to have a strong commercial motive, with Australians keenly embracing Twitter over the past six years and currently sending about 1.4 million tweets per day.

But it is also likely to ease cooperation on issues such as cyber bullying and online abuse, as well as enhancing relationships with all levels of government.

It comes after a series of high-profile cases of cyber bullying, including rugby league star Robbie Farah being abused by a troll on Twitter.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy branded the company "arrogant" in September after he unsuccessfully tried to contact the company to discuss the Farah case and ways to combat cyber bullying.

"They just believe they don't have to take any notice of the Australian public, any notice of the Australian laws, and they think they can behave this arrogantly," he told Nine Network last year.

A spokesman for Senator Conroy told AAP on Friday that he would welcome a permanent Twitter presence in Australia.

Twitter has had no full-time offices in Australia since launching in 2006. It launched an official Twitter handle, @TwitterAU, in October 2012, and senior Twitter executives visited Australia in late 2012 as part of a scoping study.

Facebook increased its presence in Australia in 2011, hiring Mia Garlick, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, to oversee its local operations.

Google also has corporate offices in Sydney.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Australia

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