Margaret Hodge: 'Online Safety Bill not enough to erase social media hate'

The England football team in the Euros boosted national morale

Within minutes of England losing the Euros final, racist abuse appeared online - Credit: PA Images

Racism is abhorrent. And yet, hate flourishes on the world’s biggest social networks.

England’s success at Euros 2020 brought most of us together. But within minutes of that heart-breaking defeat in the final, racist abuse against three young team members swelled online.

Vile racial slurs. Racist abuse was rampant on social media.

These platforms have become the wild west for harmful abuse. So the events following the game were sadly all too predictable. Yet no contingency plans were made to protect these young footballers.

The multi-billion dollar tech companies should eradicate racism from their platforms overnight. But they rely on inflammatory content to generate more hits and in turn charge more to advertisers.

In other words, they are profiting from hatred.

Margaret Hodge asks residents to be cautious over Christmas.

MP Margaret Hodge fears the Online Safety Bill could be a 'damp squib' - Credit: Archant

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That means it’s up to government to rid social media of racism. 

Boris Johnson is pointing to the upcoming Online Safety Bill as a silver bullet for making the online world free from harm. The bill should be a once in a generation opportunity to regulate the racism that social media inflicts.

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But it’s in danger of becoming a damp squib.

I believe it hands too much power to the social media companies to set their own terms and conditions and fails to tackle the trolls who hide behind anonymity to spread their racist bile.

And it does little to hold senior executives of the platforms to account for the disgusting content on their sites.

Fixing these flaws would not solve online abuse. But they are a start. 

If you have been affected by abuse, then please reach out.

This is not a political issue. That’s why I have reached out to MPs from all parties to build support for change.

Together, we will work hard to improve this bill and make the online world a safer place.

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