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U.K. takes on social media content


A demonstration booth at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., in April 2017 Associated Press/Photo by Noah Berger

U.K. takes on social media content

The United Kingdom on Monday unveiled a plan to fine social media executives or even ban companies for failing to block content such as terrorist propaganda or images of child abuse. The plan would create a statutory “duty of care” for sites like Facebook and Twitter to protect people who use the platforms. A levy on internet companies would fund a new independent regulatory body to enforce the law. The government will publish the draft legislation after three months of public comment. Britain is also considering imposing financial penalties like those in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which permits fines up to 4 percent of a company’s annual worldwide revenue, U.K. Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright told the BBC. Critics say such laws could turn Google and Facebook into censors and stifle innovation.

Australia last week banned social media platforms from allowing “abhorrent violent material” to remain on their sites, punishable by three years in prison and a fine of 10.5 million Australian dollars or 10 percent of the platform’s annual net sales, whichever is larger. Following the March mosque shootings in Christchurch that left 50 dead, New Zealand Privacy Commissioner John Edwards wants to follow suit. The shooter livestreamed part of the massacre on Facebook, which removed the video and the suspect’s accounts when notified by police. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last week in an interview with ABC News that Facebook does not plan to add a delay to its livestreaming feature, as some critics have called for.


Rachel Lynn Aldrich Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

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