New social media laws that give people an option to unmask anonymous trolls who post defamatory material online has been introduced to parliament.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher introduced the Anti-Trolling Bill to the House of Representatives on Thursday morning.

A parliamentary inquiry into social media and online safety has previously heard that the proposed legislation was not so much to do with trolling as it was defamatory material despite the name.

But Mr Fletcher denied this during the second reading of the Bill.

“The title of the Bill explicitly recognises that posting defamatory material on social media is a form of trolling,” he said.

“The title sends a clear message calling out defamatory attacks on reputation as a form of behaviour that is not acceptable online. Particularly where those reputational attacks are made behind a cloak of anonymity.”

 New social media laws have been introduced to parliament.

The Bill requires social media companies to set up a complaints scheme to help victims.

The company must disclose whether the post was made in Australia or overseas within 72 hours of the complaint being made.

They must also notify the person who made the post that someone has complained, giving them the option to remove it.

If the victim is still unhappy, they can ask for the identity of the anonymous poster.

But this information would only be released with the consent of that person.

If they don’t agree, the victim would then have the option of using a new court order to unmask them.

 Comments on social media posts

The other part of the legislation deals with implications from the High Court’s decision in the Dylan Voller case that found media companies were responsible for comments posted on their pages.

“It is clear Australians who maintain a social media page could be liable for defamatory material posted by someone else even if they do not know about the material,” Mr Fletcher said.

“The government does not agree that cafe owners or car mechanics should have to risk defamation liability to engage with their client base through social media.

“It’s not reasonable to expect millions of Australian small businesses to keep actively moderating their social media pages for potentially defamatory material.”

The Bill will be debated next week, meaning it won’t go to the upper house until March.