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Amanda Stoker admits using Facebook account with fake name amid social media troll laws

One of Scott Morrison's assistant ministers has admitted using a Facebook page under a pseudonym while being questioned about the Government's plans to stamp out online bullying.

Senator Amanda Stoker, the Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, said when she first came to parliament in 2018 she changed her personal Facebook account to use her first name followed by her middle name, rather than her surname.

'That was just so my children's privacy could be protected,' she told Sky News Australia on Monday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday announced new laws to reduce online bullying and trolling. 

Under the proposal, users will be able to demand the platform take down content that defames, bullies or attacks them. 

If the platform fails to comply, there will be a court process where the user can demand to know the name of the person who posted the offensive material with a view to suing them.

Senator Stoker said she wasn't against the principal of anonymous accounts but said they must not be used for trolling.

'If you do the wrong thing with it then it should be possible for you to still be held accountable for that behaviour,' she said. 

'If I used my account that is not using my full legal name and I used it to defame someone terribly then it should be the case that the person I've defamed can go to Facebook and say ''I need the real identity behind this so I can sue her in defamation'' because that kind of transparency is necessary for people to exercise their legal rights.'

Announcing his proposal on Sunday, Mr Morrison said he was particularly worried about the impact of social media on Australia children. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) on Sunday announced new laws to reduce online bullying and trolling

'The online world provides many great opportunities but it comes with some real risks and we must address these or it will continue to have a very harmful and corrosive impact on our society, on our community,' he said.

'The online world should not be a wild west where bots and bigots and trolls and others can (be) anonymously going around and can harm people and hurt people, harass them and bully them and sledge them.' 

Attorney General Michaelia Cash said the legislation, expected to be introduced in early 2022, was needed to clarify that the social media platforms, and not the users, were responsible for defamatory comments by other people.

Confusion had been sown by a High Court ruling in September that found Australian media, as users managing their own pages on a social network, could be held liable for defamatory third-party comments posted on their pages, Senator Cash said.

Under the planned Australian legislation, the social media companies themselves would be responsible for such defamatory content, not the users, she said.

The legislation would demand that social media platforms have a nominated entity based in Australia, she said.

The platforms could defend themselves from being sued as the publisher of defamatory comment only if they complied with the new legislation's demands to have a complaints system in place that could provide the details of the person making the comment, if necessary, Senator Cash said.

People would also be able to apply to the High Court for an 'information disclosure order' demanding a social media service provide details 'to unmask the troll', the attorney general said.

In some cases, she said, the 'troll' may be asked to take down the comment, which could end the matter if the other side is satisfied.