Social media allows people to share their whole lives and undoubtedly affects users in a personal way. But not everything that is shared on social media offers a positive outlook. The UK’s government has announced its plans to regulate the amount of violent material that is shown on social media sites. Their new regulations would target Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
Tech Giants Under Fire
While content regulation is not a new concept, the over one million video postings of the mosque shooting in New Zealand was the final push for the UK to draft serious legislation. The rules will target violent material, posts that encourage suicide, disinformation, cyber-bullying and more. The government plans to employ an independent regulator to enforce the rules with heavy consequences. According to AP Newswire, the UK would fund the regulator with a tax on internet companies.
The types of punishments that tech companies can face include fines and denying users website access. The regulator would also be sure to hold the administrators at tech companies responsible for their failures. European Parliament recently passed legislation requiring internet companies to remove terrorist content within an hour of being notified by the national authority. Failure to take down the content in the allotted time results in large fines.
The Cost of Harmful Content
The fines for social media platforms who share harmful content will be close to the EU’s data privacy laws which impose a fine of up to 4% of the company’s annual worldwide revenue. Under extreme circumstances, the UK may also fine individual company directors or prevent a company from operating in Britain completely.
The EU and UK are joined by Australia in the push to regulate social networking sites. The country also made it a crime if social media platforms do not remove violent material in a timely manner. Their fines could be up to $7.5 million U.S. Dollars in addition to a three-year prison sentence.
The cost includes further economic struggles for smaller tech companies who may be unable to keep up with the new standards. Without automated content filters, it is harder to monitor all of the content and afford any punishment fees. As larger corporations like Facebook and Google can monitor the content much easier, critics are concerned that smaller companies will be forced out. In turn, the tech giants like Facebook and Google will dominate the internet as the only way for people to absorb content.
Regulating for Quality of Life
The regulations set forth by the UK are a part of their Online Harms White Paper, which outlines the problem of harmful online content and the solutions to keep citizens safe. One of the reasons that administrators want to ban harmful content is the emotional effect on the viewer. Parents are worried that their children may see self-harm images or videos that can put the idea in their head to try something similar.
One website joining the conversation about online content is a personal advocacy project called “Regulate Social Media.” Made up of technology and media experts, they look to find a balance between society and technology platforms. The main points on their website say in regards to social media there must be:
Privacy and Protection in an Ever-Changing World
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