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29th Nov, 2021

Meriden MP calls on social media companies to do more to tackle online abuse

Sarah Mason 26th Oct, 2021

MERIDEN MP Saqib Bhatti is calling on social media companies to do more to tackle online abuse.

The Conservative MP has penned a letter to Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, Reddit and Snapchat which calls out the ‘inaction’ of social media companies to take decisive action to tackle online abuse.

His letter has been signed by 49 other Conservative MPs including Solihull’s Julian Knight.

Mr Bhatti said: “I am very pleased that so many fellow MPs have backed my letter today calling on social media companies to clean up their sites.

“Sadly, abuse and discrimination are very commonplace on these platforms and the systems in place to tackle them are too slow and at times ineffective – we cannot continue like this.”

In the letter Mr Bhatti recommends the social media should require identification for a business or individual to set up an account, those who publish racist material should be banned for life under a ‘three strikes and you are out policy’ and for algorithms to recognise specific racial terms and humans to review it to ensure racist abuse online is correctly identified and dealt with.

The joint letter states: “We were all appalled at the racism targeted at three of our national footballers after the England national team came second in the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship.

“This momentous occasion was marred by stories of bullying and abhorrent racist abuse across several social media platforms. Unfortunately, abuse on social media platforms is not limited to racism, with misogyny, disablism, homophobia and other types of discrimination also commonplace.

“Sadly, if you are in public life, whether it be as a sportsperson or a politician you are seen as ‘fair game’.

“The message it gives out to our future generations is that this is simply the cost of being thrust into the spotlight which not only damages the very fabric of our society it also undermines our democracy.

“Simply put, abuse which is not tolerated in the physical world is being allowed to fester in the online world.”

The campaign gains momentum as MPs prepare for a return of the Online Safety Bill for a second reading in the House of Commons before Christmas.

A draft of the Bill is currently being scrutinised by MPs before it is formally presented to Parliament.

The urgency to act follows the collective outcry from MPs to do more to stop the regular abuse they receive online.

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