New laws could force social media firms to 'remove illegal content'

Keiligh Baker's picture

New laws could force social media companies to remove illegal content and sign a code of conduct promising to protect vulnerable users.

The proposed crackdown will be announced by digital minister Margot James, the Daily Mail reports.

Her speech comes after the death of Molly Russell, 14, in November 2017. Her parents have blamed her death on disturbing images she saw on Facebook owned Instagram.

Ms James will make a speech at a conference for Safer Internet Day, saying: "The tragic death of Molly Russell is the latest consequence of a social media world that behaves as if it is above the law. There is far too much bullying, abuse, misinformation as well as serious and organised crime online. For too long the response from many of the large platforms has fallen short.

"We are working towards the publication of the final policy paper, and consultation, before bringing in a new regulatory regime. We will introduce laws that force social media platforms to remove illegal content, and to prioritise the protection of users beyond their commercial interests."

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: "We have heard calls for an internet regulator and to place a statutory duty of care on platforms, and are seriously considering all options. 

"Social media companies clearly need to do more to ensure they are not promoting harmful content to vulnerable people. Our forthcoming white paper will set out their responsibilities, how they should be met and what should happen if they are not."