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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Fines threat to tech firms over racist trolls

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Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter could face fines of billions of pounds unless they tackle racist trolls, a minister warned yesterday.

Culture and Media Secretary Oliver Dowden also stressed that footballers should not have to put up with racist abuse. 

It came after England star Marcus Rashford said he had seen ‘humanity and social media at its worst’ over abuse on Instagram. 

Mr Dowden, who has met footballers including Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings to discuss the problem, told TalkSport radio: ‘It’s perfectly reasonable for players to engage on social media. But they were telling me the price of that is racist abuse.’ 

Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter could face fines of billions of pounds unless they tackle racist trolls, a minister warned yesterday. Culture and Media Secretary Oliver Dowden (pictured) also stressed that footballers should not have to put up with racist abuse

Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter could face fines of billions of pounds unless they tackle racist trolls, a minister warned yesterday. Culture and Media Secretary Oliver Dowden (pictured) also stressed that footballers should not have to put up with racist abuse

He pledged the Government would ‘clean up the whole environment’.

Under planned laws, if tech firms fail to tackle abusive content, regulator Ofcom will be able to fine them up to ten per cent of global turnover.

Mr Dowden said the move ‘would cause their owners to sit up and take notice – we’re talking about billions of pounds’.

Asked what his message would be to footballers such as Rashford, the minister said: ‘Well, you shouldn’t have to put up with it. Why should you have to put up with that level of abuse?’

He said while the police were ‘pulling up the weeds of the worst racist abuse’ – with Greater Manchester Police now investigating the comments directed at Manchester United stars including Rashford – the Government would ‘clean up the whole environment’.

It came after England star Marcus Rashford (pictured) said he had seen ‘humanity and social media at its worst’ over abuse on Instagram

It came after England star Marcus Rashford (pictured) said he had seen ‘humanity and social media at its worst’ over abuse on Instagram

Under the long-planned Online Harms law, tech firms will be placed under a statutory duty of care to their users.

If they fail to tackle offensive or abusive content, regulator Ofcom will be able to fine them up to 10 per cent of their global turnover.

Mr Dowden said: ‘They need to up their game and they shouldn’t allow racist abuse to fester on the platforms, and if they fail to do so they’ll face consequences.’

The watchdog could even get the power to impose criminal sanctions on executives.

But Mr Dowden said: ‘I don’t want to use that power. If we feel that the other range of measures we’re taking aren’t effective enough, we reserve the right to have criminal sanctions.’

This post was first published on DailyMail.

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