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UK threatens social media companies with hefty fines if they don’t block “bullying” content

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Ahead of the event on anti-bullying hosted by Facebook tomorrow, a minister warned that social media firms such as Facebook and Snapchat may face hefty fines and blocks if they fail to take action against online bullying.

Jeremy Wright, the UK cultural secretary, said that the senior management teams could be potentially held individually liable.

“While some social media platforms have made progress in tackling the alarming rise of cyberbullying, it’s not happening fast enough. There’s a lot more that needs to be done to better protect children online. Platforms also need to be much more vocal in their condemnation of this kind of victimization and bullying, be crystal clear to offenders about the steps they will take if this behavior is identified, and much quicker in responding when incidents of bullying are reported to them,” said Mr. Wright.

Mr. Wright shared his personal experiences of being bullied at school with The Sunday Times. He expressed how he was able to cope with it by leaving it behind at the end of the day, whereas the youngsters nowadays tend to carry such events with them on their smartphones and stay affected 24/7. He also added that even his friends were bullied at school.

He said that the social media platforms must make it easier for victims to report online bullying so that swift action could be taken by removing the posts and so on. He said that the new regulator appointed by them will have wide-ranging enforcement powers for taking action against social media platforms that fail to care appropriately.

Wright added that the regulator will be given the authority to issue fines, impose liability on individual members of the senior management as well as the authority to block any non-compliant services.

Online bullying has said to become a problematic issue nowadays with several studies revealing alarming statistics about cyberbullying. For instance, the Anti-Bullying-Alliance has revealed that nearly one-third of 11 to 16-year-olds experience so-called “online bullying” at least once in the past six months.

The Facebook event tomorrow will showcase the work of both students and schools that have adopted the anti-bullying ambassador program created by the Diana Award charity, backed by Prince William and Harry.

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