Social networks and technology companies in the UK could face government sanctions unless they pledge to stop “trolling,” “sexting,” and “cyberbulling on their platforms.
“Ministers are to summon Facebook, Twitter, Apple and others to Whitehall and will demand that they develop new technological solutions similar to those used to thwart paedophiles and terrorists,” reported The Times of London on Sunday. “The call will be backed by the threat of legislation, with a green paper promised in the summer.”
The Samaritans claimed last week that there were “correlations” between internet use and self-harm, but added that it was unrealistic to remove all “harmful” content online.
“While we cannot realistically hope to remove all harmful suicide-related content online there is still progress that can be made by encouraging the organisations which operate highly popular sites, such as social networks, search engine providers and news media outlets, to develop responsible practices relating to suicide which reduce the availability of harmful content and promote sources of support,” proclaimed the charity.
Health Secretary and former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt also encouraged social networks to “reduce the risks” associated with their users last year.
“There is a lot of evidence that the technology industry, if they put their mind to it, can do really smart things,” he said. “I think there are a lot of things where social media companies could put options in their software that could reduce the risks associated with social media, and I do think that is something which they should actively pursue.”
Last year, it was also reported that British police were investigating “offensive” posts made about a new center for asylum seekers, while the UK’s public prosecutor also demanded the prosecution of users who post “humiliating photoshopped images and memes.”
In November, senior left-wing MP Yvette Cooper also declared that “online and offline hate crime can no longer be seen as separate,” before calling for the censorship of “hate.”