Shadow Minister for Communications, Transcript – Sky News on the Hour with Kieran Gilbert

Subject: The Coalition’s Strong Plan to Protect Young People from Social Media


Kieran Gilbert: Welcome back to the program. We’re going to turn our attention now to the calls for an age cap on social media. The Shadow Communications Minister, David Coleman, joins me live. We heard from the Meta Global Head of Safety, that’s the title of this individual on Friday at a Parliamentary Committee. What did you make of that testimony? Because some of those remarks that were made, there were quite, quite remarkable.

David Coleman: Incredible. I think it was one of the most, some of those statements were some of the most offensive things that have ever been said to a parliamentary inquiry in this country. Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety, that’s her actual title, said I don’t think that social media has done harm to our children. This is the biggest social media company in the world. This is the Head of Safety responsible for their safety policies. And she says social media has not done harm to our children. It is an absolute disgrace and it fully underlines why we cannot let the status quo prevail when Meta decides, effectively that it’s okay for little kids to sign up.

Kieran Gilbert: Did members of the committee just laugh at that statement?

David Coleman: Well look, Andrew Wallace questioned this individual very effectively, and he just said, look you cannot be serious. You cannot be serious. How can you say this? I mean, tell that to the parents who have lost kids. Tell that to the US Surgeon General who’s been out telling everyone about the dangers of social media and tell that to the millions of Australians who know that we need change here. It was outrageous.

Kieran Gilbert: Well her remarks are not going to change or not going to shift the momentum towards an age cap, are they? Because both the major parties now in Australia are of the same view that something needs to happen. Well, regardless of what Meta says.

David Coleman: Well we’re very clear, so within 100 days, we’ll introduce legislation to have a real age limit on social media – that’s 16, and actually require the social media companies to enforce it. The PM has said that he’s supportive of the age of 16. But we haven’t seen any real action on this. The Government is doing a trial, they say of social media age verification, but the social media companies themselves don’t have to participate in the trial.

Kieran Gilbert: Well, they don’t think it’s a problem, do they? Given what Meta’s saying.

David Coleman: Yeah well, the social media companies think it’s all fine. And look what their strategy will be Kieran, is to kick the can down the road for as long as possible. The social media companies are very good at that. They’re very sophisticated and what we need to do as a country is stay laser focused on the protection of our kids. We cannot have a situation where 9, 10, 11-year-olds can just sign up to social media like they do today.

Kieran Gilbert: You must have been overwhelmed with the support on it.

David Coleman: Yeah, absolutely.

Kieran Gilbert: Because you talk to any parent, football games, I was there on the weekend. This issue comes up time and time again.

David Coleman: Yeah. That’s right.

Kieran Gilbert: There should be a cap. It should have been in place for a long time.

David Coleman: Well that’s right Kieran. And look, there’s a lot of things we talk about in this building which frankly, people in the real world don’t talk about all that much. This is something that people in the real world think about every day. And since we’ve made our very strong policy commitment on the on this, I’ve been really overwhelmed with the response. We’re going to do this if we get elected. We’ll introduce legislation within 100 days. The Government should act.

Kieran Gilbert: Has any other country done it?

David Coleman: The UK has age assurance legislation in place for pornography. Numerous US states have legislated for age limits for social media. And there’s definitely a move around the world in this direction, because I think, when you look at the reality, when you look at what the US Surgeon General’s saying, when you look at the horrendous mental health statistics that we’re seeing, especially for girls, the status quo is completely unacceptable.

Kieran Gilbert: Yeah.

David Coleman: We’ve got to stay really focused and get this done.

Kieran Gilbert: Yeah. Couldn’t agree more. And it’s good that you’re questioning the Government as to how strong their response is, but at least it’s on their radar. It’s up to the political debate, whether it be the media or yourself or the Government, to get this done sooner rather than later.

David Coleman: I think the good news Kieran, is nobody seems to be advocating for the status quo. I don’t think anyone is out there saying, yeah, let’s leave it how it is. Let’s let Meta determine the safety policies as they apply. We’ve just had the Global Head of Safety say it’s all fine.

Kieran Gilbert: It’s crazy.

David Coleman: It is absolutely crazy.

Kieran Gilbert: David Coleman thanks. We’ll stay on it with you though. We’ll keep across it. Appreciate that.

David Coleman: Thanks Kieran.