UK Labor Member of Parliament (MP) Diane Abbott has called for social media companies to keep a record of their user’s names and addresses and then report them to the police if they’re deemed to be “violent, racist, misogynists.”
Abbott made the comments during an appearance on GB News where she was asked by presenter Mercy Muroki about the racist comments about some English football players that were posted to social media in the wake of England’s Euro 2021 defeat by Italy.
“Is it time we start rethinking this idea of anonymity on social media because clearly it’s not working is it?,” Muroki asked. “This idea you can post the vilest abuse on Twitter and other social media whilst being anonymous? I mean, is it right that we reconsider that?”
Abbot responded by calling for social media companies to hold the names and addresses of users so they can be reported to the police:
“I’ve had more abuse on social media than any other woman MP for…for some years now and I think that although people ought to be able to, be able to post under a pseudonym or whatever, the actual social media company should hold their name and address so when they post this type of abuse, the police can come after them and if necessary they can be prosecuted.
Absolute anonymity on social media has had its day because people have abused that and it’s… the racist abuse, it’s also some of the misogynist and violent abuse you see.
Absolute anonymity on social media has had its day. The company’s need to know the names and addresses of the people that are posting.”
Abbott was later asked by Muroki: “Where do you start by tackling this problem of online abuse?”
She responded by again calling for social media companies to hold the names and addresses of all their users so that they can report “violent, racist, misogynists” to the police.
“You start with the social media companies,” Abbott said. “You start by putting pressure on them to actually start taking down some of these abusers and to do away with…I’m not saying do away with anonymity when you actually put the stuff online but the social media companies themselves should know who is posting and the social media companies themselves should be prepared to report this to the police. You start with the so…they are making millions, they’re making millions, and they have more responsibility than allowing violent, racist, misogynists to post on their platforms with no sort of comeback.”
Abbott previously pushed for “an end to online anonymity” in February 2020 while she was UK Shadow Home Secretary.
If Abbott’s proposals were to come to pass, social media companies would be legally required to collect even more user data and add this to their already extensive data troves that they use to monitor the activity of their users online.
Facebook, Twitter, and other Big Tech companies that would be subject to such rules have already suffered massive user data breaches. In April, Facebook leaked full names, phone numbers, email addresses, and other info on half a BILLION users – the latest of several major data breaches. And Twitter has been hacked multiple times and previously settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for failing to safeguard the personal information of its users.
The UK police would also be required to monitor online speech even more pervasively under Abbott’s proposals. The UK police have already logged over 120,000 “non-hate crime incidents” since 2014 and arrest over 3,000 people each year for “offensive” online posts.