A letter to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

Over the last month I’ve been petitioning for Facebook and Twitter to provide more mental health support for their users with this Change.org petition – however following the passing of Aaron Swartz and the broad reaching discussions about suicide happening all across social media, I’ve decided it’s time for stronger action. The following is a email (and soon to be letter) for the Australian Minister for Communications, Broadband and the Digital Economy calling for his support. Please join me in contacting him for support too. – JB 


To the Hon. Senator Stephen Conroy,

(Sent via email to minister@dbcde.gov.au on Tuesday January 15, 2013)

In recent months social media has been a vital turning point for many Australians to process issues happening in the publiccommunity space. It has been a space of collective understanding and grief through a number of traumatic events including the recent bush fires and Newtown shootings in the US.

As the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy you would be well aware that broadcasters in Australia have an ethical responsibility to look after the mental health of their audiences by providing appropriate support and referral to mental health services when they discuss issues with significant trigger potential. This is a standard across all Australian broadcasters and licensed media and in most cases codified in their Codes of Practice.

Having seen a large volume of social media posts regarding mental health issues in the last few months I have serious concerns that our major social networks are not doing enough to support the mental health of Australians using their services. They must do more and they must act fast.

I believe in particular that the networks Facebook and Twitter must provide in feed referral to mental health services as a matter of urgency. If our broadcasters can do it, so can our major social networks.

I ask of you two specific requests:

  1. I would appreciate your support in encouraging Facebook and Twitter to begin providing in feed referral to mental health services as soon as possible. I believe these networks have the ability to introduce this within their current features. I am petitioning these networks here and I would appreciate your support for this campaign:
  2. Please consider a legislative response to ensure that online platforms provide appropriate mental health referral at times of high trigger risk. If we can make this a standard amongst broadcasters, I believe we should make this a standard for online platforms.

This is an issue I feel strongly about as I believe the mental health of our community must be better cared for in online environments. This is a simple and practical ask of these companies who stand to profit from the communities they service. They should take more responsibility for the positive health of those communities. I would appreciate any support you can offer in encouraging these social networks to incorporate this information into their feeds.

Thank you for your time.

Jonathan Brown


– Jonathan Brown

Jonathan is the Creative Director of We Matter Media. You can follow him @JB_AU