The Strategist

UK authorities set to fight harmful content on social networks

01/29/2019 - 11:22

In the UK, a scandal broke out because of accusations against social networks that they contain may push adolescents to suicide and injuring themselves. British Health Minister Matt Hancock has already turned to social networks with a demand to deal with such posts, threatening otherwise with harsh actions, including blocking.

UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said on the BBC TV channel that the authorities are ready to take action against social networks, even blocking them, if they do not step up the fight against harmful content that could push teenagers to suicide and hurt themselves. This statement was made by the Minister after The Sunday Times published an interview with Ian Russell, father of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who committed suicide in 2017.

In the interview, Mr. Russell said that it was the social networks that pushed his daughter to suicide. After the death of his daughter, he began to study her accounts on various social networks, including on Instagram and Pinterest, and found that she looked through many pages, posts, and images dedicated to self-harm and suicide. “The more I looked, the more horrified I came, despite the fact that I only caught a glimpse of what I had never known before and what had such a huge impact on my beloved daughter... There is no doubt that Instagram had its influence on Molly’s choice.” said Mr. Russell.

After the interview, Mr. Hancock announced on the BBC television channel that the authorities are ready to pass a new law if the social networks themselves do not take measures to deal with such content.

The minister sent emails with alerts on Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Apple, Google and Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp.

“We can issue a law if necessary. It would be better to work on this together with social networks, but if they refuse to do what, in our opinion, they should be doing, we can and should adopt an appropriate law, ”said Mr. Hancock. When asked whether the authorities could block social networks or impose additional taxes on wesites that refuse to delete such content, Mr. Hancock replied: “I wouldn’t want to get to the ban, because the positive impact of social networks is also great... But we will and should act, if needed”.

Several social networks have already responded to the situation, saying that they are already fighting with harmful content. So, Instagram said that they have already begun to revise their policy regarding content related to self-inflicted injuries, suicides, etc.