Why it's time to legislate to get social media companies to do the right thing
After campaigning with others for 12 years to make social media companies more responsible for protecting victims of abuse, things are finally changing. The Digital-Trust is working with members of the Lords to introduce an amendment into the Digital Economy Bill to make social media companies put in better provisions for victims of online abuse.
I'm cautiously optimistic that this will lead to better support for victims. We've been able to brief parliamentarians, provide case studies of horrific victim experiences and of course MPs have experienced abuse first hand. This has led to a shift in attitude to social media companies from giving them the benefit of the doubt, to being in no doubt they need to do something.
If you watch this week select committee hearing on social media, you will see that parliamentarians are no long accepting the social media stance that they are "only a conduit". They too are incredulous that social media companies still offer excuses for the inexcusable lack of action.
My experience working with social media companies has been one of arrogance and heartlessness. I never understood how social media companies could hear that a young person was bullied to the point of suicide or read the troll attacks on women that threaten rape and torture AND still not feel compelled to act.
It isn't just the UK, Pakistan has announced that meeting with Facebook on blasphemous content. Germany announced they were going to legislate and impose fines up to 50 million euros. The New York Times reported, "On Tuesday, Heiko Maas, Germany’s minister of justice and consumer protection, said he would propose a law that would impose stiff fines on companies whose social media platforms did not respond swiftly enough.”
There is much more work to do. If we get the legislation through, then we have to continue to work to make sure that it delivers the protection victim’s need. That there is oversight and mechanism for victims to formal complaints.
We could use more support. The Digital-Trust campaigns through parliament to help deliver change for victims. We’ve been involved in introducing new legislation such as the stalking, coercive control and victim’s rights bill. We also provide advice and support to victims on how to minimise risks and increase safety and privacy when they are being targeted by an abuser. We do a considerable amount of work with domestic violence victims and charities.
If you would like to support our work, please do get in touch with me.