Facebook and Twitter may be hit with new taxes as part of a new government scheme to crack down on online abuse.
Under the plan, drawn up by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, social media websites and internet service providers (ISPs) would be asked to pay for measures to combat and raise awareness about dangers such as cyberbullying, trolling and underage access to pornography.
“The internet has been an amazing force for good,” says Bradley in the proposals, released today, “but it has caused undeniable suffering and can be an especially harmful place for children and vulnerable people.”
She adds: “Behaviour that is unacceptable in real life is unacceptable on a computer screen. We need an approach to the internet that protects everyone without restricting growth and innovation in the digital economy.”
Other proposals include a new voluntary social media “code of practice” on removing bullying, intimidating or humiliating online content as quickly as possible, reports The Independent.
“Social media companies are marking their own homework when it comes to keeping children safe,” an NSPCC spokesperson told the BBC News website, “so a code of practice is definitely a step in the right direction, but how it is implemented will be crucial.”
“Young people face a unique set of risks when using the internet,” the spokesperson added, “and it is important any strategy recognises the challenges they face online and requires industry to act to protect them.”
According to the Government, almost a fifth of 12- to 15-year-olds have found content on social media that they “found worrying or nasty in some way”.
Almost two-thirds of 13- to 17-year-olds are reported to have seen videos or images that are “offensive to a particular group”, while “nearly half of adult users also say they have seen something that has upset or offended them on social media”.