Social Media platforms should be duty-bound to tackle online abuse, says Liz Saville Roberts MP

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Plaid Cymru pushed amendments in the House of Commons to make social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter accountable for rising online abuse.

The House of Commons debated amendments tabled by Plaid Cymru MPs, to introduce a statutory code of practice to improve the performance of social media platforms when dealing with incidents of online abuse which cross the criminal threshold.

Last year, the UK’s then Education Secretary reported that “convictions for crimes under a law to prosecute internet trolls increased eightfold in the last decade, with 155 people jailed" and Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, admitted that the company has been “inexcusably slow” in fighting off vicious online crime.

As well as creating a code of practice, the Plaid Cymru amendments would require social media platforms that require a user to create a personal account to undertake and publish an online safety impact assessment in respect of their account holders, to inform the police if they become aware of any threat on its internet site to physically harm an individual, and remove any posts made on its internet site that are deemed to be violent or that could incite violence.

Commenting, Plaid Cymru’s Home Affairs spokesperson, Liz Saville Roberts MP, said:

“The way in which we communicate with each other and the world has changed drastically over the last decade, with more than 85 million social media users in the UK alone.

“Plaid Cymru’s amendments enable social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to be held to account over their vital role in tackling the surge of online abuse, much of which is of a criminal nature.

“The UK Government themselves concede that convictions for crimes under law to prosecute so-called ‘internet trolls’ has increased eightfold over the last decade with 155 people jailed as of last year. There is no doubt that online abuse is rising and Twitter’s top lawyer has himself admitted that they have been “inexcusably slow” in fighting off vicious online crime.

“It is clear that there is little incentive for social media platforms to implement robust processes to deal with criminal online abuse and we must therefore ensure that there is a statutory requirement placed on them to do so.

“If someone was subjected to hate crime inside a supermarket for example, there would be an expectation on the supermarket’s security team to take action. The same should be true of social media platforms and these amendments would mark an important step forward.”

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