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UK ramps up social media rhetoric with threat to ban ‘like’ functionality for children


By John Glenday, Reporter

April 15, 2019 | 3 min read

Social media companies, principally Facebook, are coming under fresh pressure from the UK government to improve child safety, led by a threat to ban the popular ‘like’ button for children.


UK ramps up social media rhetoric with threat to ban ‘like’ functionality for children

The Information Commissioner has taken umbrage at the technique in particular, viewing it as an underhand mechanism to ‘nudge’ children into conforming to desired outcomes as well as keep them online for longer and open up a fresh source of data.

The mechanism has swiftly grown to become a key plank of both Facebook and Instagram, as well as rival Snapchat’s ‘Streaks’, sparking demands for reform which have culminated in a written blueprint setting out 16 standards that online services must meet.

This list, now under consultation, includes a ‘high privacy’ setting to be activated by default and the scrapping of nudge techniques designed to encourage children to forfeit their privacy or hand over personal data without good reason.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “This is the connected generation. The internet and all its wonders are hardwired into their everyday lives.

“We shouldn’t have to prevent our children from being able to use it, but we must demand that they are protected when they do. This code does that.”

Denham has preciously adopted a tough stance against Facebook on the issue of data mis-use, arguing that 'The time for self-regulation is up'.

Consultations will continue through to 31 May with the report expected to come into force from 2020.

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