Addressing youth crime on social media platforms

The eSafety Commissioner used her formal convening powers today to facilitate a roundtable discussion in Sydney aimed at enhancing coordination of responses and mitigations to cyber-enabled youth offending through social media platforms.

The National Youth Crime Online Roundtable brought together legal and technical experts, community representatives, tech industry and law enforcement agencies from across Australia. The Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, delivered opening remarks.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said the aim was to improve knowledge of respective roles and actions in tackling the evolving phenomenon of online youth offending.

“Today, we’ve laid the foundations for a deeper cooperation between eSafety, law enforcement and online platforms in combating the exploitation of social media by young offenders,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“By understanding better how these platforms are misused, and the steps we can all take to mitigate harms, we can better protect victims and communities.

“Collaboration with industry is crucial, and I was very happy to welcome representatives from many social media platforms to the discussion. They were very candid about what they are currently doing as well as their limitations.”

Ms Inman Grant said it was also helpful to acknowledge the broader social context.

“Today’s discussions took an ‘on-the-ground’ view of the challenges faced by law enforcement, the judiciary, and non-government organisations.

“There is a very important youth wellbeing component that also needs to be addressed. This isn’t just about content removal; it’s also about understanding some of the root causes of this behaviour.”

The roundtable focused on five primary areas:

  • Sharing information and research about how social media is exploited or abused by young offenders
  • Discussing the impact on victims and communities
  • Understanding successful youth and community-based support interventions at the coalface
  • Exploring technical capability and limitations in detecting and removing youth crime material from platforms
  • Boosting coordination to support content removal, whilst preserving the integrity of criminal investigations

“We have witnessed instances where social media is not only used to glorify criminal behaviour, but also to compound its impact across different communities, fostering a concerning ‘network effect’ of imitation crimes,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“Victims of crime may also experience intensified trauma where their experience is perpetuated more broadly through social media.”

The Commissioner also stressed the importance of bolstering detection capabilities to mitigate the spread and influence of harmful content.

“We must establish innovative ways to boost the detection and removal of youth crime material online to prevent this behaviour going viral,” she said.

“By working together, we can reduce the reach and impact of this concerning content, and help protect vulnerable users and the wider community.”

Victoria Police Commander Therese Fitzgerald APM said: “The complexity of modern crime, driven by digital platforms, necessitates a coordinated response.

“This roundtable provides a crucial platform for sharing insights and strategies across law enforcement and service providers.  

“The key learning here is the recognition that social media-related crime transcends state borders – it’s a challenge we all face collectively.  

“Moving beyond today, ongoing information sharing and collaboration will be essential to effectively combatting these issues nationwide.”

National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds said: “The turnout at this roundtable highlights the widespread concern over youth involvement in online crime across Australia.  

“Bringing together law enforcement, tech companies, and researchers is a significant step towards finding national solutions.  

“The discussions have revealed a shared commitment to addressing these issues comprehensively, not just locally but on a federal level.” 

Mia Garlick, Director of Policy, Meta, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Japan and Korea said: “Meta was pleased to attend the eSafety Commissioner's roundtable, which brought stakeholders together for fruitful discussions on addressing the challenges of youth criminal content being shared online.  

“While we have clear policies prohibiting people from engaging in criminal activity or publicising crime on our services, we welcome further collaboration with industry, law enforcement, the community sector and academia to tackle this issue,”

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