Social media firms to be forced to stamp out abuse by anonymous trolls

Social media firms will be forced by law to stamp out abuse by anonymous online trolls

  • Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries wants to toughen legislation so web giants have a duty to protect users from anonymous trolls
  • Mrs Dorries promises that the Online Safety bill will ‘end anonymous abuse’ 
  • She is re-examining the new internet safety law to see how it can be hardened in the wake of Tory MP Sir David Amess murder

Social media firms will be forced by law to stamp out abuse by anonymous online trolls, the Culture Secretary vows today.

Nadine Dorries wants to toughen legislation so web giants have a duty to protect users from hate spewed by those hiding their identity.

She will re-examine a new internet safety law to see how it can be hardened in the wake of the murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Mrs Dorries sets out her position for the first time since she was promoted to the Cabinet in last month’s reshuffle.

The Online Safety Bill – which the Prime Minister has pledged will be voted on by MPs before Christmas – will ‘end anonymous abuse’, she promises.

Nadine Dorries wants to toughen legislation so web giants have a duty to protect users from hate spewed by those hiding their identity

‘If it’s racist, if it’s misogynistic, if it’s anti-Semitic – if it’s any kind of toxic content that breaks a social media company’s terms and conditions, whether hiding behind a fake name or not, it will have to be removed,’ she writes.

Following discussion in the past week over the issue of anonymity, Mrs Dorries says she recognises ‘we may want to strengthen the tools we have to fight this abuse’.

‘The Government has decided to re-examine how our legislation can go even further to ensure the biggest social media companies properly protect users from anonymous abuse,’ she adds.

The MP for Mid Bedfordshire believes anonymous trolls can be traced if social media companies readily share information.

Abuse she has faced online included a post from someone hiding their identity which said they wanted to see her trapped in a burning car so they could ‘watch the heat from the flames melt the flesh on [her] face’.

Dorries will re-examine a new internet safety law to see how it can be hardened in the wake of the murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess (pictured)

The perpetrator was eventually found to be a student at Oxford. Mrs Dorries said police already have the powers to deal with anonymous trolls, but social media companies need to hand over data about individuals faster.

Existing legislation, under which tech platforms can be forced to reveal the identity of trolls to their victims, has been criticised as too slow and complex to use.

The Culture Secretary will meet Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen next week.

A former product manager for the tech giant, she has been responsible for a series of bombshell leaks that she says shows the social media giant has prioritised ‘growth over safety’.

The Online Safety Bill plans to put the onus on technology platforms to sort out abuse, with Ofcom appointed their regulator. MPs and peers are currently scrutinising the draft legislation.

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