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With more and more people relying on the internet to function, social media has fast become a necessity in our everyday routines. Ofcom revealed in its August 2018 communications market report that ‘one in five people spend more than 40 hours a week online’—with social media usage ranking number 2 on the list of internet activities, as well as half of all commuters surveyed saying they access social media more today, than two years ago, social media is completely embedded in our daily existence. More than ever, we use social media, not just for sharing our ‘highlight reel’ with the world, but for more sophisticated needs there has been a growing concern around regulation and privacy on these social hubs. This article reviews the reasons society is pushing for regulation and the intricate concerns wrapped within regulation over policing and breaching individuals’ rights to freedom of speech.
On 8 April 2019, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) released an Online Harms White Paper. The Paper includes an outline of new online safety measures which are intended to ensure companies are responsible for their users’ online safety. The paper also proposes the introduction of an independent regulator to hold companies to account for tackling online harms.
These recommendations follow the most recent social media tragedy in the case of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who took her own life in 2017. It was later it was found that her Instagram account contained ‘distressing material about depression and suicide’. Molly’s father Ian Russell believes the social media giant, Instagram, is partly responsible for her death. As well as attempting to tackle material that advocates self-harm and suicide, which came to light following Molly’s death, the paper also aims to prevent other ‘illegal and unacceptable content and activity’ online, such as:
• radicalisation and broadcasts by terrorist gro
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Hannah is one of the Future of Law blog’s digital and technical editors. She graduated from Northumbria University with a degree in History and Politics and previously freelanced for News UK, before working as a senior news editor for LexisNexis.
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