Tech giants threatened with huge fines if online abuse is not eradicated

Social media giants could face hefty multi-million pound fines if they don’t root out racist abuse on their platforms, the culture minister said.

The sports world will host a four-day power outage on its channels from Friday afternoon. Many players, clubs and broadcasters band together to say that online abuse is unacceptable.

A bill on online security is due before parliament later this year and is expected to include a duty of care that technology giants must adhere to, with heavy financial penalties for violations.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told a newspaper that racial abuse must be eradicated.

He wrote: “If the law states that social media companies fail to keep their promises to users, for example by not eliminating racist abuse, they face severe sanctions.

“We’ve seen fines of up to ten percent of global annual sales. For a company like Facebook or YouTube, that could be billions. “

He suggested that the threat of enforcement would move social media companies to action.

Meanwhile, Steve Hatch, Facebook’s vice president for Northern Europe, claimed his company had clear rules against hate speech, but “zero tolerance doesn’t mean zero incidence”.

He added, “We can’t stop people from being biased or typing abuse into their phone, but we can take steps to strengthen our rules and improve our detection and enforcement.”

He said that the work to bring about change also has to be done offline. He wrote: “Nothing will solve this challenge overnight, but we are determined to do everything we can to protect our community from abuse.”

“We will continue to work with the football industry, government and others to create change through action and education.”

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