Data on social media complaints may soon be set to be ‘public’ in Britain.
In an aim to ensure social media provide a clear picture of “true scale of risks and harms that users encounter on their platforms,” Britain is unrolling a comprehensive “internet safety strategy.”
The policy aims to encourage social media platforms to publish data on the complaints received and on how often the platforms actually remove abusive messages in response.
Britain’s Culture Secretary Karen Bradley social media giants like Facebook and Twitter will not await a mandate; asking that giants elect voluntarily to publish the requested information on social media complaints and handling.
Announcing the strategy, Ms. Bradley stated:
I believe Britain should be the safest place in the world to go online and this government is determined to make that a reality.
Put simply, behaviour that is unacceptable in normal life should be unacceptable on a computer screen.
As part of this strategy, we will work with key players to introduce a comprehensive response to the problem, including an online code of practice that I want to see every social media company sign up to.
A call for companies to think about safety during the design of their products, to ensure that basic safety features are included from the outset; and a plan to ensure that every child is taught the skills they need to be safe online.
The strategy comes following reports that websites and apps were not doing enough to remove abusive messages.
In reporting the announcement, UK’s The Daily Mail notes that cyberbullying is a problem affecting both children and adults:
Teachers say cyberbullying is a growing problem. While children used to be able to escape playground abuse by going home, now it follows them home via social media.
Even when children complain to web firms about bullying messages, nothing is done to punish the perpetrator.
MPs – particularly female MPs – have also complained of the rising tide of online abuse.
Thousands of abusive tweets were sent to shadow home secretary Diane Abbott alone during the election campaign.