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December 13, 2017

PM urged to prosecute the likes of Twitter, Facebook over abusive content

Social media sites could face substantial fines or more if they do not remove unwanted content.

By April Slattery

Theresa May has been urged to prosecute social media companies if they do not take more action to tackle abusive and extremist content.

In recent months these social media platforms have been criticised for failing to remove extremist and abusive content, even after being notified.

Now, the Committee on Standards in Public Life and Britain has urged the Prime Minister to implement new laws to force technology companies to recognise such intimidating posts and report this back to the authorities.

Currently social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp do not follow the same regulations as print publications do, with significantly less control over the content published on their sites.

PM urged to prosecute the likes of Twitter, Facebook over unwanted content

Social Media sites could face prosecution under new regulations.

This means that racist, extremist and abusive content across various social media platforms does not receive the same repercussions as a news publication would.

The Committee said: “In the fast-paced and rapidly developing world of social media, the companies and the government must proactively address the issue of intimidation online.”

In addition to implementing new laws, beginning next year the Committee has recommended Google, Facebook and Twitter publish quarterly reports on posts that are flagged or taken down.

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The manifesto from the Committee came after Theresa May urged social media sites to stop the spread of terror threats and extremist content being published on their platforms, with the intention to reduce the number of terror attacks happening.

“The companies’ failure to collect this data seems extraordinary given that they thrive on data collection,” the report said. “It would appear to demonstrate that they do not prioritize addressing this issue of online intimidation.”

By implementing such laws and regulations the Committee hopes social media firms will take on the advice given by the Committee and in time adhere to hopeful new rules as they are scared of incurring fines.

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Twitter is one of many social media firms that has said it will do everything it can to improve the safety and content posted on its site, revealing it had improved updates to the platform to cut down the extremist content.

In doing so, the firm admitted to taking action on 10 times the amount of accounts each day in comparison to last year.

Urging the Prime Minister to take such action is in the interest of the public to improve their safety and potentially save lives and the Committee believes prosecution must be implemented if any change is to be made.


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