Jeremy Hunt wants to ban sexting for under-18s - and thinks Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter should be responsible

Emma Haslett
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Teenagers use their mobile phones after
Social media companies should prevent the sending of sexually explicit images, said Hunt (Source: Getty)

Jeremy Hunt has suggested banning the sending of sexually explicit messages - otherwise known as sexting - by those under 18.

In evidence given to the commons health committee on suicide prevention, the health secretary said social media companies should block those under 18 from sharing images with sexual content.

"I think social media companies need to... show us how they can be the solution to the issue of mental ill health among teenagers," he said.

"For example, I ask myself the simple question as to why it is that you can't prevent the texting of sexually explicit images by people under the age of 18 if that's a lock parents choose to put on a mobile phone contract.

"There is technology that can identify sexually explicit pictures and prevent it being transmitted."

He added that the likes of Snapchat, Facebook, Whatsapp and others should flag cyber bullying.

"I ask myself why we can't identify cyber bullying when it happens on social media platforms... I think there are a lot of things where social media companies could put options in their software that could reduce risks."

Social media companies have come under fire for accidentally banning innocent images such as photographs of women breastfeeding.

In September Facebook was slammed when it removed "napalm girl", an iconic photograph from the Vietnam war showing a distraught nine-year-old girl running away from a napalm attack.

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