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Social media firms face bans if they don't act, UK minister says

Written by James Delahunty @ 27 Jan 2019 7:55

Social media firms face bans if they don't act, UK minister says

The Secretary of State for Health of the United Kingdom has warned that legislation will be forthcoming to take action against social media firms over suicide-related material.
Matt Hancock was speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show when he made the comments. "If we think they need to do things they are refusing to do, then we can and we must legislate," he said. Hancock went on to stress that it's not where the UK government would like to end up.

The issue has come to national attention in the UK over the tragic details surrounding the death of a 14-year-old girl in 2017. The young lady was found dead in November 2017 after taking her own life. She reportedly had not shown any previous signs of mental health issues.

Her family later realized that she had been viewing disturbing content related to suicide on social media platforms, including Instagram and Pinterest. Instagram has since commented on the case, pointing out its policies on material that encourage or glorify self-harm or suicide.

Social media platforms do allow some content that contains suicide, self-harm, depression, anxiety and similar subject matter to reside on the platform after being advised by expert groups that the sharing of stories and making connections with others who are struggling can be helpful.

Hancock says it is the government's position that these platforms do need to do more to remove potentially harmful material.

"It is appalling how easy it still is to access this content online and I am in no doubt about the harm this material can cause, especially for young people. It is time for internet and social media providers to step up and purge this content once and for all," he said.

"Lots of parents feel powerless in the face of social media. But we are not powerless. Both government and social media providers have a duty to act."

More information: BBC News

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