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Social Media Executives May Be Held Responsible For ‘Harmful Content’

Social Media Executives May Be Held Responsible For ‘Harmful Content’
In case there are harmful content published on social media platforms, the executives and bosses of the platform could be held personally responsible according to new government plans in the United Kingdom.
According to media reports published very recently, a new "duty of care" would soon be legislated by ministers which would be implemented and impose by an independent regulator acting as a watchdog. According to reports, while there would be extensive powers accorded to the watchdog – even to impose fines for violation of the new regulations, reports also claimed that it could also accord personal liability for the breaches on the executives of the social media platforms.
It is expected that the details of the new regulation would be published in a long-awaited Government White Paper on online harm next week.
"We will shortly publish a White Paper which will set out the responsibilities of online platforms, how these responsibilities should be met and what would happen if they are not," a government spokesman reportedly told the media. "We have heard calls for an internet regulator and to place a statutory 'duty of care' on platforms, and have seriously considered all options."
This move is being taken at a time when social media platforms all across the world has been placed under increasing pressure to bring in changes and adhere to new rules and regulations for the platform after the revelation of a number of high-profile scandals in the industry.
While the case of teenager Molly Russell highlighted the danger of harmful content online, calls for stricter rules have been made by a wide range of reports and experts. Molly had committed suicide in 2017 after she had allegedly viewed videos and other content related to self-harm and suicide on Instagram. There have been suggestions that the time for self regulation of social media was over and the call was joined by the father of Molly, Ian Russell.
"Up until now they have chosen their own course. Governments have allowed social media platforms to be self-regulated, but remember this really is a matter of life and death and it's getting worse," he said last month. "Now is the time for the UK Government to bring effective internet regulation, with strong sanctions as back-up. Now is the time for the UK to lead the world in making the online world a safer place, especially for the young."
Social media of late has been criticised severely for not being able to prevent publishing of content related to terrorism, child abuse, self-harm and suicide. Reports also suggested that the implementing watchdog could most likely be Ofcom at least initially but a new body would be created in the longer term.
In addition to social media platforms such as Facebook and search engines such as Google, the new regulation could also cover online messaging services and file hosting sites.
According to an survey by Ofcom last year, some form of online harm had been experienced by 45% of adult internet users while such content was reported by 21%.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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