BOSSES of social media giants such as Facebook could face arrest for failing to protect users from self-harm images under a new legal crackdown.
Suicide Prevention Minister Jackie Doyle-Price said the sick images pose as big a threat as grooming and vowed “nothing is off the table” in tackling them.
Suicide Prevention Minister Jackie Doyle-Price has warned execs at firms such as Facebook and Twitter could be nicked over self-harm images[/caption]
But the Government faced mounting criticism that it has still failed to bring in new laws to govern social media despite promising them 18 months ago.
Ms Doyle-Price warned social media firms like Twitter could be reclassified as publishers – meaning they would be legally accountable for what is posted on them.
She said: “If they don’t step up to the plate we will take legal powers to make sure they do. They have a legal duty of care to their users.”
But Ged Flynn, chief executive of the suicide prevention charity Papyrus, told The Sun children are dying while ministers are dragging their feet on legislation.
He said: “I’m a bit cynical because I have heard previous ministers in various departments promising this.
“I’m afraid warm words don’t butter the parsnips. We need action.”
Mr Flynn stormed: “They should be preparing legislation now. We shouldn’t wait for the industry.
“While every suicide is a tragedy and complex, there is clear evidence that for many young people who take their lives, social media has played a part.
“The rate of suicide is increasing – 200 children last year. Those 200 children need protecting this year, and next year.
“So we need to do something now – to prevent future deaths.”
Labour will today demand a new regulator and a new legal duty of care for tech firms, as they unveil their plans for a digital crackdown.
Party No2 Tom Watson will lash firms for ignoring the harm they do to kids, and pledge to end the “patchwork protection”.
Mr Watson will also commit Labour to creating a new Digital Bill of Rights, so Brits can track their data and find out who is making money out of it.
His plan piles further pressure on Theresa May, who in the 2017 Tory manifesto promised to create a Digital Charter to regulate online safety and the use of data.
The manifesto promised to make “Britain the safest place in the world to be online”.
THE SUN SAYS
IF the Government is serious about finally hammering the social media giants whose negligence costs kids’ lives, then great.
But all we see is a Tory Party carping endlessly about the web firms but swallowing their excuses while paralysed by Brexit woes.
If it takes massive, punitive fines based on a percentage of turnover to eradicate the vile content which triggers suicides and much else, let’s do it.
If a few tech executives need to be arrested before they finally grasp their responsibilities as publishers, fine.
The Government must stop talking and start acting.
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Ministers are under massive pressure to finally regulate the Wild West of the internet in the wake of the tragic death of Molly Russell.
The 14 year-old killed herself after seeing images glorifying self-harm on Instagram.
The Government white paper spelling out reforms is due out before the end of March.
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes. And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet, it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun today launches the You’re Not Alone campaign. To remind anyone facing a tough time, grappling with mental illness or feeling like there’s nowhere left to turn, that there is hope.
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, over the course of this week, we will tell you the stories of brave survivors, relatives left behind, heroic Good Samaritans – and share tips from mental health experts.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others.
You’re Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
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