Social media giants will be forced to help users block trolls in a new ban on toxic posts.
- Users will be able to block anonymous unverified accounts in new overclock
- These new measures have been added to the upcoming Internet Safety Bill.
- Individuals will be allowed to choose whether to join the verification process
Social media users will be given new powers to control who can interact with them in the face of a major crackdown on hateful internet trolls.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are required by law to provide users with the tools to block anonymous unverified accounts.
Users will also be given the option to verify themselves. Finding a suitable screening method will be the responsibility of the firms, but this can range from taking a selfie to providing proof of a passport or driver’s license.
Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are required by law to provide users with the tools to block anonymous unverified accounts (stock photo used).
The new measures have been added to a forthcoming Internet safety bill that would place a duty on technology companies to take care of users.
However, people will be allowed to choose whether to join the verification process, despite calls from some campaigners to make it a requirement.
Ministers were concerned that this could compromise the security of vulnerable users. Online anonymity can be critical for victims of domestic violence, activists living in authoritarian countries, and young people exploring their sexuality.
The government also announced measures that would force platforms to provide adult users with the tools to block “legitimate but harmful content” such as racist slurs and misinformation about Covid.
This may include allowing users to enable settings that prevent them from receiving recommendations on certain topics or from placing privacy screens on top of that content.
The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) said the new measures would “give more power” to social media users by giving them more choice about who to chat with.
Online anonymity can be critical for victims of domestic violence, activists living in authoritarian countries, and young people exploring their sexuality (Used stock photo)
Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Technology firms have a responsibility to ensure that anonymous trolls do not pollute their platforms.
“We have heeded calls to strengthen our new online safety laws and are announcing new measures to give more power to social media users themselves.
“People will now have more control over who can contact them and will be able to stop the tidal wave of hate fed to them by fraudulent algorithms.”
It comes after calls from MPs, footballers and celebrities to take action against internet trolls after they came forward about the horrendous abuses they’ve been subjected to.
The government has already announced tougher penalties for trolls, with a new bill that would face up to five years in prison for those guilty of the most brutal abuses.
The latest measures will only apply to the largest social media platforms, which are considered “first category”, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as they pose the greatest risk.
Watchdog Ofcom will have the power to impose a fine of up to 10 per cent of annual global turnover on them for any infringement, or even block the use of sites in the UK.
A DCMS spokesperson said of the new measures: “While this won’t stop anonymous trolls from posting offensive content in the first place – as long as it’s legal and doesn’t violate the terms of the platform – it will prevent victims from being exposed to it and give them more control over their online experience.” .
However, people will be allowed to choose whether to join the verification process, despite calls from some campaigners to make it a requirement (stock photo used).
The bill would also force the social media giants to remove illegal content such as images of child sexual abuse, suicide propaganda, hate crimes and incitement to terrorism.
But there is a growing list of toxic social media content and behavior that does not meet the criminal threshold that still causes significant harm.
The spokesperson added: “A lot of this is already expressly prohibited by social media terms, but too often it is allowed.” Firms will need to provide tools that will allow users to block this in their news feeds.
Three Ways to Suppress Hatred
New measures added to the Internet Safety Bill today will force social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to ensure users can:
Users should be given the option to verify. The platforms will decide which methods they will use, but this can range from uploading a selfie that matches their profile picture, or providing government-issued identification such as a passport.
BAR TROLLS ANONYMOUS
Tools should be provided to allow individuals to block other users who choose to remain anonymous. This may include checking a box in settings that only allows you to send direct messages or replies to messages to verified accounts.
HARMFUL CONTENT FILTER
Users should also be given the option to block content that does not reach the criminal threshold but still causes significant harm, such as racist slurs. Tools may include allowing users to change settings to prevent the site from recommending certain topics or to place privacy screens above such content.