Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are to face a new tax proposed by the UK government in a bid to raise awareness of and prevent issues such as extreme and polarizing content, fake news as well as underage access to content minors should not be exposed to.
Under current rules, social media sites cannot be prosecuted for any content posted on their sites as the blame lies solely with the individual offender. The new strategy aims to ensure that social media sites are taking the safety of their users seriously and ministers want the money raised from the proposed tax levy to fund schemes which will not only raise the biggest dangers of the internet, but provide realistic solutions as to how these dangers can be tackled.
Up to now, most of the companies seem to be on board with the move, with Facebook saying that “Our priority is to make Facebook a safe place for all ages..” and “..we welcome close collaboration [with governments and other organizations] to address this important issue.” Almost half of all adult internet users in the UK report that they have seen something upsetting or offensive or upsetting on social media in the past year. The introduction of this “Internet Safety Green Paper” is indicative of the growing concern with regards to safety on the internet. Many companies across the board are being urged to be more socially responsible with safeguarding their users, and social media isn’t the only industry being urged to take steps to protect their customer base.
The placement of safeguards online is nothing new in certain industries, a very good example of which is online casinos – known as the iGaming industry. In this case, games providers are required by law to block access from locales they are not licenced in as well as to people deemed unsuitable to play. It’s something that most users welcome, as the more regulations and safeguards are in place at a given provider’s website, the more reliable the provider is considered. In an industry where customers deposit money online, reliable banking methods, high-end encryption and third-party verification is the standard to ensure the highest security when playing for real money online.
It is estimated that three out of four young people in the US now have access to a smartphone, and most of us are now connected to the internet in some way, be it via our smartphones or other mobile devices. While it could be argued that no information can remain truly private in the online world, more and more sensitive information is being transferred via social media and the internet than ever before and so it is now of the utmost importance that the safety of internet users is preserved as effectively as possible.
There’s little doubt that the benefits associated with the increased use of the internet in modern society far outweigh the drawbacks. However, with more people using sites such as social media than ever before, it’s vital that the proper measures are in place to secure the safety of those who are the most vulnerable. It’s important to note that the “Internet Safety Green Paper” is merely a preliminary report designed to provoke meaningful discussion. It is therefore likely that the UK Government will wait to see what action the private sector takes before making any concrete plans for future legislation, but this is certainly a step in the right direction if nothing else.