Note: This post has been moved from Latest Picks due to length of extended updates.
Alas after the suicide of a teenage girl who took her own life in 2017 after viewing disturbing content about suicide on social media with her father saying he believed Instagram “helped kill my daughter” and that online scrapbook and virtual pin heroin of the fairer sex “Pinterest has a huge amount to answer for” than just hotlinking of images too.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, [Secretary of State for Health and Social Care] Matt Hancock said: “If we think they need to do things they are refusing to do, then we can and we must legislate.”
But he added: “It’s not where I’d like to end up.”
With Hancock actually saying when asked on the show if the UK would go as far as banning or imposing extra taxes on websites that failed to remove harmful content that “Ultimately parliament does have that sanction, yes, it’s not where I’d like to end up, in terms of banning them, of course, because there’s a great positive to social media too” (independent.co.uk) and calling on social media giants to “purge” material promoting self-harm and suicide in the wake of links to a teenager’s suicide.
But also perhaps still nursing bruised ego and baring something of a grudge from when before being being trusted to look after the nations health he was Minister of State for Digital and Culture and on the Andrew Marr Show last year having to admit the government does not have the power it needs over social media companies when ten out of fourteen social media companies snubbed his invitation for talks (Latest Picks 20th May 2018) in the wake of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal with Facebook’s nawty boy Zuck agreeing to face a grilling from the EU while taking Hancock’s threats with a pinch of Atlantic-crossing sea salt, reminding how in the 21st rather than the 20th century just how very much Lil’ England we are outside of it.
It’s perhaps indicative of his scramble up the Tory greasy pole that he now think he, or rather government, now has the power it needs over social media companies.
But seriously, we rebuke China and its great firewall for censoring the internet and social media, should we or social media companies really take Hancock’s threat seriously by thinking we may join them with our own Lil’ English privit fence firewall?
If a ban were in placed, imagine the “destroying our democracy” howls from the Lil’ English Brexiteers that used/got used on Twitter and Facebook to win referendum to stop Brussels’ bureaucrats telling them what to do with their business and where or where not to smear, share and spread it. There’d be more chance of violence on the streets than if they cancelled the lemming jump of the White Cliffs of Dover that is Brexit with a second referendum.
And as to how to go about banning these social media sites when the proposed porn crackdown instigated as distraction tactic by former PM David Cameron is still much behind schedule with plans likely still resembling a selfie of finger up arse that will require viewer to prove their age when the antiquated BBFC finally decide which commercial porn tube to let run it (Blog 7th Jun. 2018).
Although Hancock said he has wrote many cross letters to those social media giants its likely they are still not particularly that concerned about little Matt of Lil’ England at the bottom of their beanstalk with owners of Instagram Facebook probably at some point rolling out their new head of global affairs ex coalition deputy PM Sir Nick Clegg to give him a tummy tickle (Latest Picks 19th Oct. 2018).
Updated 28th January 2019
And so indeed rolled out on cue, and now seemingly titled “vice-president” rather than head of global affairs:
Facebook pledges to do more on self-harm (bbc.co.uk).
New Facebook vice-president Sir Nick Clegg has told the BBC the firm will do “whatever it takes” to make its social media platforms safer for young people.
Presumably as long as definition of “safe” does not include making them use their real name rather than a pseudonym to make things easier for bullies, trolls and prospective future employers and allowing advertisers to track their every purchase and movement and adding that some “experts say it is wise to keep certain images up because they can also help people find support” but conflictedly admitting again that “he would not let his own children view some graphic examples”.
“I can tell you firstly we’re going to look at this from top to bottom, change everything we’re doing if necessary, to get it right,” Sir Nick said.
“We’re already taking steps soon to blur images, block a number of hashtags that have come to light, and thirdly to continue to work… with the Samaritans and other organisations.”
As well as no doubt at least attempting to get adverts for cotton wool and plasters to go alongside rather than whats new in animal-print in M&S Style & Living: M&S ads and other top brands ‘placed next to self-harm images’ on Instagram—which was ‘blamed for Molly Russell’s suicide’ (thesun.co.uk).
Updated 7th February 2019
But having rolled out Sir Nick to look like he’s really in charge of something, something still needs to be done with the fuss still not going away and, although probably not taking Matt Hancock’s floppy threat seriously, somebody needs to act rather than just putting on one:
[Head of Instagram] Adam Mosseri said Instagram was trying to balance “the need to act now and the need to act responsibly”.
He added the site was “not where we need to be on the issues of self-harm and suicide”.
Which will likely require rolling out of a self-harm checker bot in conjunction with its notorious nipple checker bot, likely being a reprogrammed bare bum bot after bare bums became non-sexual and okay to post after Kimmie K. posted hers on the platform while #BreakingTheInternet for Paper (celebexposuredigest.blogspot.com, Nov. 2014) having previously suspended RiRi’s account when she posted hers for Lui (celebrityoopsdigest.blogspot.com, May 2014).
But indeed, as with the notorious nipple checker bot’s much publisised mistakes such as banning granny’s Simnel cake mistaking it for nipples (metro.co.uk, Apr. 2016), automated errs will occur; I can see the informing notice now: “That’s a nasty gash you have there. I’m afraid we’re gonna have to shutter those.”
Updated 8th April 2019
While as with a Sisyphean exercise forcing pornography users to prove that they are adults (Jun. 2018), desperate to be seen as responsible adults whilst the Brexit process paralysing parliament continues to look likely to be an immanent act of national self harm:
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has proposed an independent watchdog that will write a “code of practice” for tech companies.
With Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright outlying the proposals announcing “The era of self-regulation for online companies is over” seemingly spooling out the red tape which Fidiotbook’s nawty Zuck is confident they will tie themselves up in when he himself recently called for a government and regulators role in updating rules of the of internet (Latest Picks 31st Mar. 2019), with as well as those acts already clearly defined in law such as terrorist content, sex abuse, revenge porn, hate crimes, harassment and the sale of illegal goods “online harms” covering:
[The plans also cover] harmful behaviour that has a less clear legal definition such as cyber-bullying, trolling and the spread of fake news and disinformation.
With no doubt whatever watchdog eager to get to petty beurocratic business defining and getting consensus on the boundaries of all that.
Internet crackdown raises fears for free speech in Britain (theguardian.com).
Critics of the government’s flagship internet regulation policy are warning it could lead to a North Korean-style censorship regime, where regulators decide which websites Britons are allowed to visit, because of how broad the proposals are.
Indeed, with the revulsion trumpeted by Tory MPs (theguardian.com) over the PM’s need to consort with a dirty rotten Trot in the form of Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn to attempt to convince him to rescue Brexit by joining her sinking in populist quicksand, it may be wondered if some might call for anything mentioning Karl Marx could end up in those broad online harm proposals as well as any insufficiently Dad’s Army patriotic media coverage of the awkward turtlehead resulting from Lil’ England leaving the rump of Europe Brexit is turning out to be.
Updated 28th October 2019
And while caramel waffles (Toxic Twitter) may have helped soothe Matt “sugar taxin’” Hancock bruised ego while in the charge of the health of the nation, Zuck’s social media collective is still trying hard to address its image problem:
Instagram’s latest promise covers explicit drawings, cartoons and memes about suicide, in addition to any other method “promoting” self-harm.
“It will take time to fully implement… but it’s not going to be the last step we take,” Instagram chief Adam Mosseri told BBC News.
With last week it banning cosmetic surgery AR filters (bbc.co.uk) but alas allowing the rampant bloody overuse of puppy, sunglasses and funny face filter to continue to stymie pulling one off over your favourite muses’ latest.
Updated 12th February 2020
And in response to the Online Harms consultation and Online Harms Bill white paper drafted in April last year:
With Bojo’s cabinet “minded” to grant new powers to media and the telecoms regulator Ofcom to regulate social media too, indeed seemingly any internet entity featuring user-generated content including comments, with the new Digital media and culture secretary Nicky Morgan announcing that under the new legislation tech companies would now be held accountable for the content on their platforms.
Ofcom will have the power to make tech firms responsible for protecting people from harmful content such as violence, terrorism, cyber-bullying and child abuse—and platforms will need to ensure that content is removed quickly.
But some may recall the fate of the plan to regulate porn with the BBFC put in charge of allowing PornHub owner Mindgeek to further increase their revenue with the issuing of an AgeID porno passes which the DCMS finally abandoned last year as an infeasible white elephant’s arse (Updated 16th October 2019).
- MPs warn fake news is a democratic crisis for UK (Blog 28th July 2018)
- Facebook’s Zuckerberg grilled by EU over data mining and election meddling (Latest Picks 22nd May 2018)
- Social media companies snub meeting with British Culture Secretary [Matt Hancock] threatening legislation (Latest Picks 20th May 2018)
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