Yesterday in evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, the Minister for Digital and Culture said that the Government’s proposed “Online Harms” regulatory regime will effectively apply to private citizens’ social media posts but will not apply to national newspaper websites, or even their own social media comment sections.
The Minister suggested IPSO was regulating comment sections, but IPSO, which does not possess regulatory powers anyway, has not even reached one single adjudication in response to below the line comments.
Hacked Off Director of Policy Nathan Sparkes, commenting on the Government’s plans to regulate social media postings but not newspaper websites, said:
“Instead of addressing the disinformation and other online harms regularly committed by national newspapers, the government’s proposed strategy is to clamp down on private citizens’ social media postings while allowing newspapers to act with impunity.
“The Government wants to regulate your nan’s Facebook more stringently than the MailOnline. This is an absurd and self-defeating approach, which undermines the government’s claims to have any sincere commitment to tackling online harms.
“The Minister described the government’s online harms approach as “world leading” in yesterday’s evidence session but if it targets private citizens while giving newspaper websites reaching 7 million people per day a free pass it is more likely to turn the UK into a global laughing stock.”
Sparkes, commenting on the Government’s proposals to exempt newspaper social media platforms, said:
“Fake news, conspiracy theories and racist abuse are flourishing on newspaper social media comment sections, while the do-nothing complaints-handler IPSO sits on its hands. No one can seriously believe that IPSO, which has not brought itself to launch any investigations in its six years of existence, is capable of effectively regulating user comment sections.
“It is time the government started to take online harms seriously and ensures the scope the new regime covers harms regardless of where they are committed.”
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Hacked Off is the campaign for a free and accountable press, and we work with the victims of press abuse to achieve those aims.