Ofcom has announced plans to get tough on hate speech and inappropriate content shared on video sharing platforms including TikTok, Snapchat and Twitch.
Britain’s broadcasting regulator will be given far reaching new powers to issue fines and even suspend platforms which allow hate speech and inappropriate content to be displayed.
The policy change comes after it was revealed that one in three users encounter hate speech while on video sharing platforms, a quarter of users have been exposed to violent or disturbing content and one in five have seen content encouraging racism.
Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom Chief Executive, said, “online videos play a huge role in our lives now, particularly for children. But many people see hateful, violent or inappropriate material while using them.
“The platforms where these videos are shared now have a legal duty to take steps to protect their users. So we’re stepping up our oversight of these tech companies, while also gearing up for the task of tackling a much wider range of online harms in the future,” she continued.
The harmful effects of content sharing platforms on children are under the microscope due to recent revelations about the failings of Facebook to protect users.
Testifying at a hearing in the US Congress, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen said that the tech giant’s products “harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.”
Haugen accused Facebook of shirking its responsibility to introduce safeguards even though the platform’s algorithms lead teenage girls to anorexia related content and fan the flames of racial hatred and violence.
Over the next 12 months Ofcom will focus on tackling hate and terror online, ensuring an age-appropriate experience on video sharing platforms and developing effective processes for video sharing platforms to report harmful content.