Social media executives could theoretically be jailed if their platforms fail to work with regulators to remove “harmful content,” under the updated UK Online Safety Bill.
An earlier draft of the Online Safety Bill, released last year, said tech companies would be fined billions of pounds for failing to remove harmful content, or the so-called duty of care.
According to the Daily Mail, a Whitehall source said: “It had been the sword of Damocles hanging over them. “But now it will come into force.”
The updated version of the bill states that social media executives will be prosecuted if their platforms fail to uphold the duty of care. The updated draft of the law will be presented by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries in the coming weeks.
Kids’ advocacy groups and families have long complained about online platforms hosting harmful content, especially self-harm material. They have campaigned for the prosecution of social media companies that fail to remove such content.
But free speech advocates argue that the threat of prosecution will make online platforms censor even legitimate content, hampering debate on issues of public concern.