Twitter urged to sign up to cyber-bullying guidelines

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called on social media giant Twitter to sign up to new guidelines for dealing with complaints on social networking sites.

On Wednesday, Ms Gillard announced that companies such as Facebook, Google (YouTube), Yahoo! and Microsoft had signed up to a new federal government protocol that commits them to ''robust'' processes for looking at and acting on complaints, clear guidelines for users about acceptable behaviour online and education and awareness campaigns.

''I think we all know what it feels like to be in a room of people, perhaps you can remember back to a day in your school days, when you felt humiliated in front of the classroom or in front of your sporting team and that happened in front of 10, 20, 30 other people,'' Ms Gillard said in Sydney.

''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.''

The voluntary and non-binding protocol was developed in response to recommendations of a 2011 parliamentary committee report on cyber-safety and comes as Ms Gillard announced a new schools education program to combat cyber-bullying.

Ms Gillard called the protocol a ''step forward'' by ''giants'' of social media, but added a further step was needed.

''We need to see Twitter also agreeing to use these protocols and guidelines, because it is on Twitter that so much of the damage has been done by trolls ... I do call on Twitter to replicate what has been done by other major social media companies and embrace these guidelines,'' she said.

Last year, following incidents like the Twitter trolling of TV presenter Charlotte Dawson, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy accused Twitter of treating Australia's laws with contempt over its failure to hand over evidence to authorities investigating cyber abuse.

Fairfax Media has attempted to contact the US-based company.

This story Twitter urged to sign up to cyber-bullying guidelines first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.