Social media giants are being asked to pay to take action against the “undeniable suffering” that has been caused on their sites.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has drawn up plans to target cyber-bullying, trolling, abuse and under-age access to porn as part of a new ‘safer internet strategy’. She also wants social media platforms to disclose the scale of online abuse in an annual report.
The Government has revealed that almost a fifth of 12 to 15-year olds and almost half of adults have seen something that worried or upset them on social media.
Although there have been promises to introduce new laws on the subject in the Conservative Party’s manifesto, Ms Bradley has said that this would take “far too long” and is therefore aiming for a “collaborative approach” with the internet groups.
This appears to have been widely supported by such groups, with Ms Bradley telling the BBC:
“Many [social media companies] 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’”.
The annual transparency report, if agreed on, is set to include:
Long term, Ms Bradley is still hoping for legislation to come in, focusing on making what is unacceptable offline, unacceptable online and making technology companies take responsibility for their users.
In order for this to be successful, collaboration between industry experts, protection bodies and government is required. This then needs to be supported by an increase effort in schools and homes to educate children and young people on how to stay safe online and what to do if they do feel concerned or targeted.
The consultation will close on 7 December, and the government expects to respond in early 2018.