Social media firms may need to fund measures to tackle online harm

11 October 2017

Facebook and Twitter may need to pay for action to tackle the ''undeniable suffering'' the internet can cause, UK culture secretary, Karen Bradley has announced.

Plans drawn up by Bradley, would target cyber-bullying, trolling and under-age access in a bid to make the online world safer.

Bradley said, ''The internet has been an amazing force for good but it has caused undeniable suffering and can be an especially harmful place for children and vulnerable people, Belfast Telegraph reported in its digital edition.

''Behaviour that is unacceptable in real life is unacceptable on a computer screen.

''We need an approach to the internet that protects everyone without restricting growth and innovation in the digital economy.

''Our ideas are ambitious and rightly so. Collaboratively, government, industry, parents and communities can keep citizens safe online, but only by working together.''

The proposals set out in the Internet Safety Green Paper also include an annual internet safety transparency report to monitor online abuse.

Startups would get support to ensure they built safety features into new apps. The government also confirmed plans announced earlier this year to make relationship lessons, which would include online safety, compulsory in schools.

The government also highlighted research from the UK Safer Internet Centre that found 64 per cent of 13-17-year-olds had seen people posting offensive images or videos.

UK prime minister, Theresa May has also called on the world's biggest technology firms to take down terrorist propaganda in as little as one hour or face the threat of new fines.

Options proposed in Bradley's internet safety green paper include ''an industry-wide levy'' to allow social media companies and service providers to fund schemes that ''raise awareness and counter internet harms''.

The Independent reported that the government is interested in the action the private sector takes first, with a voluntary funded approach before imposing any new levy on firms.

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