Science

United Kingdom government considers social media levy to combat online abuse

In a major clampdown on cyberbullying and trolling on social media websites, the United Kingdom government could hit Facebook and Twitter with a "troll tax" if they do not reveal the scale of web dangers in the United Kingdom and work towards making the country the "safest place in the world" be online.

Vicki Shotbolt, chief executive at social enterprise Parent Zone, said it was encouraging to see the government taking "concrete steps" to make the internet a safer place for children. No financial figure has been mentioned and would involve consultation with the industry and other stakeholders.

The plan, which arrives in the form of "The Internet Safety Green Paper", is the United Kingdom gov's answer to tackling "the growing dangers of the online world" such as nasty or offensive images or videos, and proposes an "industry-wide levy" on social media firms, internet providers, and mobile networks to "raise awareness and counter internet harms".

Among the options is an "industry-wide levy" that would be used to fund schemes that "raise awareness and counter internet harms".

The Independent reported that the government is interested in the action the private sector takes first, with a voluntary funded approach before imposing any new levy on firms.

She added: "Many of them say: 'When we founded these businesses we were in our 20s, we didn't have children... now we're older and we have teenagers ourselves we want to solve this".

Karen Bradley, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said: "The Internet has been an awesome force for good, but it has caused undeniable suffering and can be an especially harmful place for children and vulnerable people".

She added: "Behaviour that is unacceptable in real life is unacceptable on a computer screen".

Governments across the world have become very critical of social media roles, according to multiple reports the request for deleting content on Facebook, Twitter and Google have significantly increased.

The government's Internet Safety Strategy will propose a social media code of practice meant to "remove or address bullying, intimidating or humiliating online content", backed up by a levy or tax on social media companies and "communication service providers" that will be used to "raise awareness and counter internet harms".

'Our ideas are ambitious - and rightly so. "Collaboratively, government, industry, parents and communities can keep citizens safe online, but only by working together", the minister said.



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