How many children have to die before tech giants clean up their act?
That’s what I asked myself following yet another story about a child who had killed themselves after seeing gruesome self-harm pictures online.
As social media companies compete for users and cash, child protection is an afterthought.
In the offline world, from toys to playgrounds, we take it for granted that businesses are forced to keep children safe. But online it’s a wild west, where normal rules don’t apply.
Children pay the price of this failure. These unsafe sites allow predators to mine profiles looking for children to groom and abuse. Too often they flood our children’s phones with nightmarish images.
That is not right and that is why we are demanding that Government act now, because warm words of encouragement are getting us nowhere.
Online it’s a wild west, where normal rules don’t apply
The sites have shown they cannot and will not protect their young users voluntarily.
That’s why the NSPCC is calling for an independent regulator to force social networks to design their sites to meet minimum child safety standards.
They must be punished if they fail to do so, with prosecutions, boardroom bans, and big fines. The sites must be more open about explaining how they are working to design safety into their services and show us how they are using their tech to root out groomers who prey on children.
Some social networks complain that these changes are complicated and costly.
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We cannot continue to proceed issue by issue, tragedy by tragedy. It’s time for tech giants to act like our children matter.
It’s time for Government to tame the Wild West Web.