With the ever-growing digital world making resources such as social media indispensable to businesses and the general public alike, it is to no surprise that Ofcom has called for stricter regulations to be put in place to keep users safe. Following on from her campaign earlier this summer for Facebook and Google to be subject to independent regulation to tackle the spread of misleading information online, Sharon White, Ofcom’s Chief Executive stresses the importance of Social Media regulations being in place to protect its users.
Speaking in the Times, White highlighted “our research shows that people see social media platforms as the single biggest source of online harm,” with 45% of those surveyed stating that they have experienced some form of harm online. White equally believes complaint processes need to regulate how the likes of Facebook deal with any reported harmful content, as well as targets set for how quickly such complaints are resolved, potentially establishing fines for any breach of these regulations.
A campaign led by the Daily Telegraph has prompted ministers to begin drafting proposals for new laws designed to regulate social media and the internet. Concerns include online harm and risks such as child abuse, bullying, fake news and internet addiction.
Whilst some may see the importance of this as minimal, recent issues such as the file scandals involving Cambridge Analytica have bolstered growing public concern with potential harmful content on social media and data transfer risks. If the government are successful in implementing these regulations to prevent these problems and they are put in motion, they will ultimately decide the foundations of regulation to be followed by technology companies. More significantly, they would then also ultimately decide what defines a post a being ‘harmful content’.
Although they are yet to be successful in severely regulating social media, a key question to arise from the new regulations is how they will affect businesses. With different views on humour and use of taboo subjects – how might some businesses cope with stricter regulations? Major companies such as Tesco Mobile are well known and often followed on Twitter for their ‘come backs’to tweets directed to their business. Those possessing responsive social accounts such as this may fall foul of stricter regulations in the way they deal with customer interactions, as well as their complaints. Whilst Ofcom are still likely to face many challenges in successfully implementing regulations, the limitations that they could create would necessitate thought to social media strategies and processes.