Ofcom to become the UK's first social media watchdog

David Prior's picture

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom is to be handed responsibility for policing online platforms under government plans to be announced later today.

Until now, social media firms such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have been largely responsible for regulating themselves.

But under an expanded role to be announced by Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary, the regulator will be given additional, as yet unspecified powers to act over unacceptable content.

The FT reports that the new legislation will place a legal “duty of care” on social media firms to ensure their users are not exposed to illegal material.

It will then be for Ofcom to decide when and how companies have breached that duty and what the punishment should be.

This is the government's first response to the Online Harms consultation it carried out last year.

Morgan said: "There are many platforms who ideally would not have wanted regulation, but I think that's changing. I think they understand now that actually regulation is coming."