Following the London Bridge terror attack Theresa May announced outside Downing Street that the Internet must now be regulated and that international agreements should be introduced to regulate the internet. This is my eyes and the eyes of many is long, long overdue.
It is very evident in the way society is deteriorating world wide that technology firms are not doing enough to stop the ‘safe places’ they have on line.
These so called ‘safe spaces’ may be were you can watch extremist ideology, learn to make a bomb, how to kill someone, how to kill yourself, watch child porn, interact and collude with other pedophiles, sell weapons, buy and sell sex workers… the list is endless and unfortunately we only get to hear the very tip of this very disturbing iceberg.
If we want a society that is based on basic decency and respect then new rules and regulation for cyberspace have to be immediately applied, as the way it is presently is a breading ground for fascists, misogynists, racists, terrorists and pedophiles.
In their 2017 Manifesto the Conservatives pledges regulation of the Internet, including forcing Internet providers to partake in counter-extremism drives and making it more difficult to access online pornography.
“Our starting point is that online rules should reflect those that govern our lives offline.
In harnessing the digital revolution, we must take steps to protect the vulnerable and give people the confidence to use the Internet without fear of abuse, criminality or exposure to horrific content. Our starting point is that online rules should reflect those that govern our lives of line.” (1)
Stephen Fry recently also called on Facebook and other platforms to be classed as publishers accusing them of not taking responsibility for their content.
Social Media has to have the same legal responsibilities as traditional websites and be immediately classified as publishers.
Stephen Fry talking at the Hay literary festival accused social media platforms of refusing to “take responsibility for those dangerous, defamatory, inflammatory and fake items whose effects will have legal consequences for traditional printed or broadcast media, but which they can escape”. (2)
Facebook which is said to be a major news source for 80% of the population still claim to be a platform rather then a publisher. The share hypocrisy in this is totally irresponsible. (3)
Social Media platforms need to acknowledge their responsibilities as publishers, they need to take control and properly police their platforms so they can delete and control the threats, the sexual abuse, the insults, the racism, and all other number of horrors that we can see daily on our Facebook screen.
Facebook is far too soft on those peddling hate speech, is it no wonder that general unrest and hate crime in society has gone up?
By letting this type of behavior go on what type of society are we creating?
In a leaked documents outlining Facebook’s guidelines for dealing with harassment and hate speech their standard approach appears way of the mark when it comes to dealing with cruel sometimes-violent material. For example, in Facebook world it is ok for someone to write: “To snap a bitch’s neck, make sure to apply all your pressure to the middle of her throat,” because they believe it’s not an example of “credible” violence that is a “call to action” – apparently it is just a venting of frustration. (4)
The leaked guidelines on nasty and abusive posts also show how company evaluates who ‘deserves our protection’ and who doesn’t. (5)
Other controversial rules set out in a three-page document on Facebook’s Breaking News policies tells moderators not to delete photos of mutilated or dead bodies, or of videos depicting death, once reported. Instead, they are to be marked as “disturbing”. (6)
There is a growing feeling world wide that social media companies they are not doing nearly enough, quickly enough, to tackle these problems.
We are losing the online war (if not lost already) and now is time to gather our resources, combine our efforts, join together with other countries to regulate and use new laws that force social media companies to remove sexually explicit material, hate speech and extremist material.
Content that is put on and spread on social networks plays a huge role in shaping our society, and allowing live broadcast acts of violence and self-harm is utterly irresponsible and has huge consequences. Copycat behavior is also an area of grave concern - in just two weeks Facebook moderators escalated 4,531 reports of self-harm.
This month, the home affairs select committee said that matters were getting worse, not better, with MPs delivering an unusually withering assessment of the tech industry: “There is a great deal of evidence that these platforms are being used to spread hate, abuse and extremism. That trend continues to grow at an alarming rate but it remains unchecked and, even where it is illegal, largely unpoliced. The evidence suggests that the problem is getting worse.” (7)
(1) The Conservative Party Manifesto 2017. (2017). Conservatives.com. Retrieved 7 June 2017, from https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto
(2) The Conservative Party Manifesto 2017. (2017). Conservatives.com. Retrieved 7 June 2017, from https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto
(3) Rosoff, M. (2017). Online news sites get 80% of their readers from two sources: Facebook and Google. Business Insider. Retrieved 7 June 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/where-online-news-sites-get-their-readers-facebook-and-google-2016-6
(4) Valenti, J. (2017). Facebook is too lenient on those peddling hate speech | Jessica Valenti. the Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/24/facebook-lenient-peddling-hate-speech
(5) Hopkins, N. (2017). Revealed: Facebook's internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence. the Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/may/21/revealed-facebook-internal-rulebook-sex-terrorism-violence
(6) Hopkins, N. (2017). Facebook struggles with 'mission impossible' to stop online extremism. the Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/may/24/facebook-struggles-with-mission-impossible-to-stop-online-extremism
(7) Bowcott, O. (2017). Social media firms must face heavy fines over extremist content – MPs. the Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/may/01/social-media-firms-should-be-fined-for-extremist-content-say-mps-google-youtube-facebook