U.K government is all set to give internet firms the authority to take action against social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in case of illegal or harmful content. The rules are set to protect users particularly, young minds from bad, illicit and child abuse content.
Until now, firms like Facebook, Tiktok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter have largely regulated themselves on their own. Now, Ofcom – the country’s approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting – has given the responsibility ‘duty of care’ power to protect users from social media harms. According to Ofcom, 4 in 5 internet users aged between 12 and 15 have experienced harmful content online over the past 12 months. Ofcom can issue penalties if social media firms refuse to take action against content that target violence, cyber-bullying and child abuse.
The watchdog will not be able to remove harmful posts but it will be empowered to hold tech firms to account if they fail to enforce content standards. This means that internet firms will be expected to remove illegal content quickly and minimise the chances of it appearing in the first place. Online companies will be required to explicitly state what content and behaviour is acceptable on their sites in clear and accessible terms and conditions and enforce these effectively, consistently and transparently.
Tech companies’ response
“Facebook has long called for new regulations to set high standards across the internet,” said Rebecca Stimson, the social network’s head of U.K. public policy. “New rules are needed so that we have a more common approach across platforms and companies aren’t making so many important decisions alone.”
YouTube, owned by Google, said it looked forward to “working in partnership with the Government and Ofcom to ensure a free, open and safer internet that works for everyone.”