New poll finds 7 in 10 adults want social media companies to do more to tackle harmful content
- 68 percent want more action from social media companies on racism, homophobia and misogyny on their platforms
- Comes as the Online Safety Bill passes report stage in the House of Commons this week
A clear majority of the public wants social media companies to do more to protect their users from harmful content, according to new research published today.
A poll by Ipsos shows that more than four in five adults (84%) in the UK fear seeing harmful content – such as racism, misogyny, homophobia and content that encourages self-harm – with two in five (38%) claiming to have seen in the past month. It comes as the Online Safety Bill goes through report stage in Parliament this week.
The government-commissioned study revealed strong public support for the measures contained in the bill. For example, seven in ten adults (68%) think social media companies should do more to protect people online.
Four in five adults (78%) want social media companies to be clear about what type of content is and isn’t allowed on their platform. In a stern warning to social media companies, 45% of respondents also said they would leave or reduce the time they spend on their platforms if they saw no action.
Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said:
Online abuse has a devastating impact on people’s lives, and these findings definitely show the public our plans that will force social media companies to step up security for their users.
It’s clear that people across the UK are worried about this issue, and as our landmark online safety bill reaches the crucial next stage in Parliament, we’re getting closer to being held accountable by the tech giants. technology and securing the Internet for everyone in our country. .
The survey also found that women are very concerned about legal but harmful content, with 45% feeling unsafe when talking to people on dating or messaging apps.
Most women (65%) agree that there should be limits to the types of content people can post online. Almost half (47%) of people living in households with at least one child say they have seen abusive content in the last month.
The safety of women and girls across the country is a top priority. The measures we are introducing through the Online Safety Bill will mean that tech companies will have to tackle illegal content and activity on their services, women will have more control over who can communicate with them and who type of content they see on major platforms, and they will be better able to report abuse. Additionally, we continue to implement our Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy to bring about real and lasting change both offline and online.
The Online Safety Bill was introduced in Parliament in March and is a major step in the government’s mission to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. The new laws will protect children, fight against illegal content and safeguard freedom of expression, while requiring social media platforms to abide by their terms and conditions.
If they fail to do so, regulator Ofcom will work with platforms to ensure they comply and will have the power to impose on companies up to ten per cent of their annual global turnover – which could reach billions of pounds – to force them to fulfill their responsibilities. or even block non-compliant sites.
When the bill takes effect, companies will be required to identify and implement solutions to protect their users. Companies hosting content harmful to children, such as pornography, will have to prevent them from accessing it, for example by using age verification.
Social media platforms will also be required to protect people’s freedom of expression and their access to journalism and democratically important content. The poll follows the announcement of a series of amendments to the bill last week to strengthen protections for free speech, including stricter protections to guard against the arbitrary removal of articles from recognized media shared on social networks.
Last week, the government published the list of legal but harmful content that social media companies will have to deal with under the online safety bill.
The categories consist of types of online abuse and harassment that may fall below the threshold of a criminal offense but still cause significant harm to adults online, such as misogyny, homophobia and content that encourages self-harm. This threshold is important to ensure that the online safety framework focuses on content and activity that poses the greatest risk of harm to UK users online. Freedom of expression under the law may involve expressing opinions that some may find offensive, but a line is crossed when disagreement turns into abuse or harassment, which refuses to tolerate other opinions and seeks to deprive others of their freedom of expression and freedom of association.
Notes to editors
Ipsos surveyed a representative sample of 1,140 adults aged 18+ across the UK. Interviews were conducted online from June 20-22, 2022. Quotas were set and data weighted using demographic variables to match the profile of the population.