Social media giants face new tax to help regulate ‘wild west’ internet
Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter could be forced to stump up more cash to help boost internet safety, under new plans proposed by ministers.
Digital Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to say later today that the new strategy would help make Britain the safest place in the world to be online.
A new “social media levy” is being researched, with a decision due later this year, amid fears over the rise in negative online content.
Six out of ten people told a consultation they have seen inappropriate of harmful content online, while four in ten said they have experienced online abuse.
The move comes one month after health secretary Jeremy Hunt slammed tech giants for “collectively turning a blind eye to a whole generation of children being exposed to the harmful emotional side effects of social media prematurely”.
Under the new plans, online companies could also be forced to regulate the kind of advertising which is presented to children, as well as providing greater detail about the kind of offensive content they are removing from their platforms.
Mr Hancock said: “Digital technology is overwhelmingly a force for good across the world and we must always champion innovation and change for the better.
“At the same time I have been clear that we have to address the Wild West elements of the Internet through legislation, in a way that supports innovation.
“We strongly support technology companies to start up and grow, and we want to work with them to keep our citizens safe.
“People increasingly live their lives through online platforms so it’s more important than ever that people are safe and parents can have confidence they can keep their children from harm.
“The measures we’re taking forward today will help make sure children are protected online and balance the need for safety with the great freedoms the internet brings just as we have to strike this balance offline.”
A joint white paper from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office is due out later this year.
It will set out fresh proposals to tackle online abuse, ranging from cyberbullying to child sexual exploitation.
Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, said: “Criminals are using the internet to further their exploitation and abuse of children, while terrorists are abusing these platforms to recruit people and incite atrocities.
“We need to protect our communities from these heinous crimes and vile propaganda and that is why this Government has been taking the lead on this issue.
“But more needs to be done and this is why we will continue to work with the companies and the public to do everything we can to stop the misuse of these platforms.
"Only by working together can we defeat those who seek to do us harm.”