Facebook and Twitter could both be asked to pay for “undeniable suffering” brought on by social media interactions in the United Kingdom.
The Conservative Party’s culture secretary Karen Bradley revealed late last week that plans have been drawn up to hold social media platforms accountable for cyberbullying, trolling, abuse, and even under-age access to porn.
Bradley wants to make the Internet a safe space for children, and the best way to do it is for social media companies to be held to a voluntary code of practice and fund campaigns against abuse.
According to a BBC report, the British government found that almost a fifth of 12 to 15-year-old children, and almost half of adults have found something that offended or upset them on social media.
Bradley says that the plan she proposes is a “collaborative approach” with companies, and not a new set of laws because they’d be faster, and easier to introduce if companies are willing to cooperate. The Conservative Party had previously promised to introduce new laws regulating the internet as part of its manifesto, but Bradley said that legislation would take “far too long.”
“Many of them say: ‘When we founded these businesses we were in our 20s, we didn’t have children… now we’re older and we have teenagers ourselves we want to solve this,’” said Bradley, relaying what the platform owners told her.
She added that while the Internet had been used for good, but it has “caused undeniable suffering” and is especially harmful for children and “vulnerable people.”
Bradley said that one of her proposals is an annual transparency report that will require companies to detail how much of their content is flagged as abuse, how their complaints are handled, how they are categorized, and how each site moderates its content.
The culture secretary also states that the government “could legislate in the future,” and that changes to existing laws would have the following core principles:
- What is unacceptable offline, should be unacceptable online
- All users should be empowered to manage online risks and stay safe
- Technology companies have a responsibility to their users
The proposal will lead to the creation of a new government body to consider all aspects of Internet safety.
For now, the government is focusing on Facebook to make it a “safe place for people of all ages.” The government is collaborating with groups like the UK Sasfer Internet Centre to develop tools and recommendations for social media platforms.
Won’t someone please think of the children?