New provisions in the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill aim to protect the content of information posted on social media.
Under a new amendment tabled by ministers, social media platforms will not be able to arbitrarily delete articles by journalists from recognized news outlets.
According to the government, the measures aim to remedy this situation and provide an additional layer of protection to the safeguards already enshrined in the bill for online journalism.
Ofcom statistics suggest that half of UK adults use social media for news, with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram being the most popular platforms for this purpose. The Internet is also the platform for consuming information most used by 16-24 year olds and people from minority ethnic groups.
But news content has been removed or made less visible by moderators or social media algorithms for unclear reasons, often at the height of news cycles. For example, last year Youtube suddenly removed the channel from TalkRadio, then reinstated it 12 hours later, admitting the move had been a mistake.
Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Our democracy depends on citizens’ access to high-quality journalism and our Global Safe Internet Act brings strong new safeguards for free speech and the press. on line.
“Yet we have seen tech companies arbitrarily suppressing legitimate journalism with a complete lack of transparency and it could have a serious impact on public discourse. These extra safeguards will prevent that from happening.
Currently, the bill would not prevent platforms from removing content from news publishers or making it less visible if they decided to review it for possible violations of their terms and conditions, even if in the end, they found no fault in it.
Under the new amendment, Category 1 companies – including the largest and most popular social media platforms – will now be required to ensure that articles from recognized news publishers remain visible and accessible on their sites, even if they are under review by moderators.
They will be required to notify news publishers and provide them with a right of recourse before removing or moderating their content or taking any action against their accounts.
In doing so, the amendments aim to reduce the risk of platforms making arbitrary or accidental moderation decisions against content from news publishers which plays an invaluable role in UK society and democracy. News publishers will benefit from greater awareness and advance warning of possible actions taken against their content, and greater transparency about the decision-making behind them.
The amendment follows concerns raised by the news industry and the joint committee that the bill could indirectly incentivize platforms to be overzealous in removing or moderating publishers’ content. news for fear of sanctions from the regulator Ofcom.
This could hurt the commercial viability of news publishers, many of which depend on the advertising revenue they receive from people accessing their content on social media.
The new requirement means that unless the publication is illegal under the bill or the platforms have criminal or civil liability for hosting it, content from recognized news publishers will remain online even during the review. by moderators and any further appeals.
Platforms can still take immediate action on content posted by normal users, who can appeal the removal of their content after it has been removed under the bill’s existing complaints procedures.
Instead of being notified after their content has been taken down for review, news publishers will be notified ahead of time while it remains on users’ newsfeeds, giving them time to appeal.
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