http://www.digitaljournal.com/internet/u-k-mps-want-social-media-companies-fined-for-illegal-material/article/491581

U.K. MPs want social media companies fined for illegal material

Posted May 1, 2017 by Arthur Weinreb
A Commons committee is recommending social media companies be fined for not removing illegal material from their platforms quickly enough or at all. The report also recommends these firms be required to pay policing charges regarding illegal content.
Social media
Social media
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A report from the Home Affairs Select Committee chastised major companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter for not removing objectionable content from their sites quickly enough or at all. This illegal content includes hate speech, child abuse images and terrorism-related material including recruitment videos.
The all-party committee accumulated evidence from Facebook, Twitter and Google, the parent company of YouTube. The committee found while these companies acted quickly when material was found to infringe someone else's copyright, this was not the case when it came to hate speech, child abuse, or terrorism material.
The report stated the committee found a lot of examples of the companies not removing content when asked to do so. The report described these companies as “big enough, rich enough and clever enough” to fix the problem but simply chose not to do so. Their inaction was referred to as “shameful.”
The report gave examples of the type of content the committee is concerned about. A cartoon appeared on Twitter showing migrants abusing a partially naked white woman and stabbing her baby to death. After complaints were made, Twitter said the cartoon did not breach its “hateful conduct” policy.
A video was posted on YouTube entitled “Jews admit organizing White Genocide.” YouTube refused to remove the video because, according to the company, it was not hate speech. And community pages were found on Facebook that were anti-Semitic or Islamophobic. While some individual posts were removed, the community pages were allowed to remain.
Football clubs and drinking establishments in the U.K. are required to pay policing charges because their businesses lead to a certain time of crime. According to police in the U.K., about half of reported crime has some connection to social media. Some crimes such as terror offences, threatening violence and hate crimes take place entirely on the Internet.
In addition to charging for policing, the report recommends criminal sanctions be imposed on companies that do not remove illegal content within an enumerated time period. These sanctions would take the form of large fines.
Yesterday
Amber Rudd  pictured on July 13  2016  won acclaim for her punchy defence of the EU in television de...
Amber Rudd, pictured on July 13, 2016, won acclaim for her punchy defence of the EU in television debates during the referendum debate
Oli Scarff, AFP/File
, Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, welcomed the report and said social media companies must show they are serious about fighting online crime. She said the government will study the report carefully.
The report also noted these large companies refuse to say how many people they have employed to remove hateful and illegal content. The reports recommends companies be required to file reports every three months stating how many people they have working on the problem and what they are doing to remove illegal content.
Response by social media companies
All three major companies, Facebook, Google and Twitter, had about the same response to the report. They claim they are acting quickly to remove objectionable content. Twitter said they are becoming more proactive and are working with experts in the fields of counter terrorism and child protection.
Facebook said they take this very seriously and have an easy way for people to object to content that is then reviewed by their staff. And YouTube also mentioned they are working with experts, have updated their algorithms and have tightened their advertising policies.
A general election in the U.K. will be held on June 8. It will be up to the next government to deal with the Home Affairs Select Committee report.