Local Welsh Labour MP, Chris Elmore, has welcomed the UK Government’s announcement that Ofcom is set to regulate social media platforms to protect their users from online harms.
Chris, who Chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media, said the decision was “welcome”, but called on ministers to accelerate their plans to protect young people online.
Then Culture Secretary, Nicky Morgan MP, announced that the broadcast regulator would receive the new remit of regulating social media platforms following a consultation, due to report back in spring 2020.
Chris Elmore MP said:
“Just as Ofcom shields children from inappropriate content on TV before 9pm, today’s announcement needs to do the same for social media platforms — and it needs to happen quickly. Spring must mean April, not July.
“Social media is a beast that needs to be tamed. Time after time, social media giants have proven that they’re unwilling to act voluntarily to properly protect their users from harm.
“For the sake of our children’s mental health and wellbeing, it’s imperative that Ofcom is given the resources it needs to bring some order and common sense to this online Wild West.
“These steps alone won’t be a means to an end. Any statutory duty of care must be properly enforceable and not something that social media sites are able to duck out of. We also need real investment in research and support services to help people across our country better adapt to our online world.”
Until now, social media companies have largely been left to self-regulate, but in the wake of tragedies such as the suicide of teenager Molly Russell after viewing graphic content on Instagram, calls have increased for greater independent regulation.
“The social media companies have completely and utterly failed to act voluntarily and for the sake of our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, we must act decisively and robustly.”