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UK Secretary Calls for ‘Online Abuse’ Tax for Social Media Companies

The UK’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport has called for an “online abuse levy” against social media companies.

BBC News reports that Karen Bradley, the UK’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has called for social media companies to pay for the “undeniable suffering” that their platforms can cause. Bradley wants companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to agree to a “voluntary” code of conduct and fund anti-abuse and cyber-bullying campaigns.

According to Bradley, legislating her plan would take “far too long,” so she has instead chosen a “collaborative approach” with Internet groups and companies and believes that she sees “willingness to cooperate” on their part. “Many of them say: ‘When we founded these businesses we were in our 20s, we didn’t have children… now we’re older and we have teenagers ourselves we want to solve this,” she claimed.

Bradley claims she believes the Internet has been a revolutionary tool in the 21st century and has acted as an “amazing force for good, but it has caused undeniable suffering and can be an especially harmful place for children and vulnerable people. For too long there’s been behaviour online that would be unacceptable if it was face-to-face.”

Bradley’s proposed plan includes an annual transparency report which would include:

  • the volume of content reported to companies and the proportion taken down
  • how users’ complaints are handled
  • categories of complaints, including from under-18s, women, the LGBT community or on religious grounds
  • information about how each site moderates content

Bradley said that legislation on the issue could be possible in the future adding that the following principles would have to underpin any changes made to law:

  • What is unacceptable offline, should be unacceptable online
  • All users should be empowered to manage online risks and stay safe
  • Technology companies have a responsibility to their users

Facebook responded to Bradley’s ideas, saying, “Our priority is to make Facebook a safe place for people of all ages which is why we spent a long time working with safety experts like the UK Safer Internet Centre, developing powerful tools to help people have a positive experience. We welcome close collaboration between industry, experts and government to address this important issue.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com.

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