Social media giants must tackle trolls or face charges - poll

Majority of UK adults surveyed want a law to protect web users, and a requirement on platforms to stop abuse

More than three-quarters of adults believe social media companies are not doing enough to curb online abuse, according to a new poll for an anti-bullying campaign group.

The poll, by YouGov for Clean Up The Internet, also found four in five adults think these firms should face fines if they do not act against abuse.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others have faced criticism for years for failing to tackle trolling, harassment and bullying.

Many “trolls” are now taken to court. Crown Prosecution Service figures show prosecutions for offences have risen by 78% in the past five years. There were 5,952 in 2018-19.

Last month, the government announced plans for an online harms bill, that would give Ofcom powers to regulate and prosecute internet companies.

Clean Up The Internet believes the legislation should also restrict online anonymity and its founder, Stephen Kinsella, said: “ Social media companies could do far more to tackle anonymous abuse. If they won’t act voluntarily, the government needs to step in.”

However, free speech campaigners believe regulating the internet poses a threat to civil liberties. Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Online anonymity is vital to protect privacy and freedom of expression, and to allow whistleblowers to tell truth to power. It also allows people to freely seek information, engage in political debate and develop ideas without fear of reprisals.”


James Tapper

The GuardianTramp

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