Jun 23, 2020

Fines to be part of regulating social media, says Ofcom

Ofcom will not hesitate to impose fines on social media firms who fail to deal with harmful content, its new boss has said. "Fines need to be part of the regime. These are extremely large companies with significant financial muscle," she told MPs. France recently passed a law that requires social media to remove hate speech and illegal content within one hour or face heavy fines. Dame Dawes acknowledged that regulating Facebook, Twitter and Facebook would be a "Big challenge" but promised that if Ofcom was appointed to the role, it would "Shine a light" and "Hold them to account", she told MPs. She said it would require the recruitment of data analysts, and revealed "Someone from Google" had already been appointed. The case of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who killed herself after viewing self-harm images on Instagram, put the issue into sharp relief and helped convinced the government that it needed to appoint a social media regulator. Dame Dawes did not rule out the possibility of legal action against social media firms, including so-called super-complaints potentially launched with the help of charities such as the NSPCC. She was also asked whether the watchdog would look at limiting the amount of time children were online, but said it would be difficult to provide a definitive figure on how much time was too much.

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