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Facebook and Twitter could face £2m fines from UK government for failing to combat abuse

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By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

February 6, 2017 | 3 min read

A group of MPs have suggested fining companies like Facebook and Twitter up to £2m if they fail to curb online harassment and bullying.

FACEBOOK TWITTER REPORT ONLINE ABUSE

Facebook and Twitter face £2m fines from UK government for failing to combat online abuse

The proposal is part of a private member's bill spearheaded by Labour MP Anna Turley dubbed the 'Malicious Communications (Social Media) bill', which would see the formation of a register of social media firms operating in the UK regulated by Ofcom.

If passed into law, the legislation would see culture secretary Karen Bradley determine the list of firms which could face penalties of up to £2m, or 5% of global turnover, for failing to filter threatening material.

MPs have suggested that social media platforms should be required to "have in place reasonable means to prevent threatening content from being received" by users of their service in the UK unless users "opt out" of having their content filtered.

The proposal also stipulates that social media giants should verify the ages of users requesting to opt out to make sure they are not under 18 years of age.

Twitter has been looking to clampdown on abuse within its walls over the past 12 months cumulating in the promise of "long overdue" harassment fixes back in January. The platform's ongoing troubles with trolling and online bullying are well documented and allegedly extinguished Disney and Salesforce's interest in purchasing the platform last year.

Facebook, meanwhile, has also faced calls to moderate its content after it failed to prevent the resurface of a banned torture video on its Live video product. It has also quietly started using automated systems to filter and block extremist content, and added a comment filtering tool to sister app Instagram.

The bill was first put to parliament last year and will go through a second reading in the House of Commons next month.

In August 2016 Scotland Yard established a special police force to crackdown on on online abuse. The Online Hate Crime Hub is a £1.7m two-year project and was launched to cut through the "veil of anonymity" offered by social networks according the Metropolitan Police.

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