Social media sites belonging to Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft have agreed to comply with new guidelines set out by the Australian government on how they should respond to complaints from Australians.
Announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard today, the Cooperative Arrangement for Complaints Handling on Social Networking Sites Protocol (PDF) aims at providing Australians with clearer information about what is acceptable on the social networks, creating a single point of contact for the government to deal with, and ensuring processes are in place for acting on complaints.
"Many people are living with the feeling of humiliation in front of thousands, indeed tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people because of the way that these social media environments work," she said.
As many social networks are not Australian-based, they typically fall outside the reach of local legislation, meaning that, although they are encouraged to participate and comply with the new protocol, the government is unable to force them by law. Twitter is one such organisation that has yet to agree to follow the protocol.
Gillard praised the actions of Facebook and others for embracing the protocol, but singled out Twitter as one social network in particular that needs to cooperate, saying that "it is on Twitter that so much of the damage has been done by trolls."
Twitter is currently in the midst of setting up an office in Sydney.
While Gillard mentioned Google, the protocol is only currently being followed by YouTube. Google's own social media site, Google+, is not listed among those that have agreed to follow its guidelines.