Ofcom: Social media giants require regulation

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Ofcom boss Sharon White will explain why regulation is needed for social media companies later on today (Source: Getty)

The boss of media regulator Ofcom will push for greater regulation of tech companies such as Facebook and Google in a speech later on today.

Better regulation could protect people on the internet, Ofcom says, as research published today by the broadcaster warns 20 per cent of Brits have been harmed by web content.

Sharon White, chief exec of the organisation, is expected to set out a system to regulate social media firms' in-house complaints processes, as well setting targets for how quickly offensive content is removed and fines for companies which do not keep to standards.

Regulation of this kind would mean social media firms are regulated in the same way broadband and mobile providers are.

However, any future regulation would be a matter for the government to decide on.

White is expected to call the current situation, where large parts of the internet are unregulated, a "standards lottery".

"Our research shows that people see social media platforms as the single biggest source of online harm – and most people want the rules to be tighter," she is expected to say in a speech later today, as first reported by The Telegraph.

"As a regulator, we are required to keep audiences safe and protected – irrespective of the screen they watch or the device they hold.

"Without even knowing it, viewers are watching the same content governed by different regulation in different places or none at all."

The comments come ahead of a report being published by Ofcom today that looks into how people can be protected from online harm, and whether regulation is needed to address these problems.

This follows Facebook's announcement last week that it would fact check photos and videos as part of a crackdown on fake news.

Read more: Facebook to start fact-checking photos and videos in fake news crackdown