Commentary

UK May Require Social Media Companies To Delete Data On Demand

The backlash against big tech platforms in Britain continued this week with the news that the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Theresa May is considering a measure that will require companies like Facebook and Twitter to delete all information from their records about young users if they request it, according to the UK Telegraph, which reports the legislation will likely be brought forward after the upcoming snap election called by May for June 8.

The legislation under consideration would give social media users under the age of 18 the right to ask social media companies to expunge all data relating to them, effectively wiping out their social media presence. Additionally, users over the age of 18 can demand that social media companies delete any content posted before they turned 18, again in order to help protect users from their own youthful indiscretions.

The government pointed to recent reports suggesting that some jobseekers are finding it harder to land a position because of unflattering social media content posted in their ill-judged youth. 

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The same legislation would also establish big fines for tech platforms for accidentally exposing users to objectionable content including pornography and hate speech, and compel them to remove content that is bullying, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate.

May stated: “The internet has brought a wealth of opportunity but also significant new risks which have evolved faster than society’s response to them. We want social media companies to do more to help redress the balance and will take action to make sure they do.”

Earlier this month a UK parliamentary committee blasted social media companies including Facebook and Twitter for not doing enough to combat banned content including hate speech, terrorist propaganda and material depicting child abuse including child pornography. The committee report concluded: “The biggest and richest social media companies are shamefully far from taking sufficient action to tackle illegal and dangerous content, to implement proper community standards or to keep their users safe. Given their immense size, resources and global reach, it is completely irresponsible of them to fail to abide by the law, and to keep their users and others safe.”

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