UK regulator Ofcom will be given new powers to hold social media platforms responsible for protecting people from harmful online content, reports the BBC. The UK government is said to be set to reveal the plans on Wednesday.
The new rules will enforce social media platforms into removing illegal content such as images of child abuse and terrorism, but also content showing violence, cyber-bullying and more. It is unclear what the penalties will be for non-compliance.
Social media firms like Facebook and Twitter often hide from the responsibility of protecting the welfare of their users because there is no regulation to enforce it. The size and scope of such companies’ operations has grown to a level where safely policing their platforms is a Herculean task.
The UK government clearly believes this is not an excuse.
“The new rules will apply to firms hosting user-generated content, including comments, forums and video-sharing - that is likely to include Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok,” said the BBC.
The idea is that the government will set initial legislation but then defer to Ofcom as the regulator to enforce the policy. This is designed to allow Ofcom the freedom to adapt to new threats without the need to change the original legislation. The fast evolving online world is famously an area governments the world over have failed to understand and adapt to.
The new legislation is one of the first examples of a government attempting to permanently hold social media firms accountable for the content hosted on their platforms. Regulation against technology has been glacially slow, but country-specific changes such as this one could be important steps in maintaining public safety as well as holding billion-dollar tech firms accountable.