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Samaritans to run new Government hub monitoring self-harm videos and ‘antivaxx’ stories

Samaritans to run new Government hub monitoring self-harm videos and ‘antivaxx’ stories in a crackdown on harmful online content

  • Matt Hancock says Samaritans has agreed to run a social media safety unit
  • The ‘hub’ will automatically spot and take down harmful online content
  • It is expected to produce an annual ‘state of the online environment’ report 

A social media safety unit will crack down on self-harm videos online, the Health Secretary announced last night.

Matt Hancock said the Samaritans charity has agreed to run the ‘hub’ with Government officials, in a bid to make the UK ‘the safest place to be online’.

Mr Hancock will today meet tech giants including Google, Facebook and Snapchat to ask them to take part.

The impact of social media on the young was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year by the death of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who took her own life after viewing images on Instagram that glamourised self-harm

The unit will aim to develop ways to automatically spot and take down harmful online content before it spreads.

He also wants the new unit to produce an annual ‘state of the online environment’ report to monitor and assess the safety of the social media.

The impact of social media on the young was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year by the death of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who took her own life after viewing images on Instagram that glamourised self-harm. Ruth Sutherland, of the Samaritans, said: ‘This partnership marks a collective commitment to learn more about the issues, build knowledge through research and insights from users and implement changes that can ultimately save lives.’

Mr Hancock has repeatedly threatened new laws to stop the spread of anti-vaccination myths on Facebook and Twitter

Mr Hancock has repeatedly threatened new laws to stop the spread of anti-vaccination myths on Facebook and Twitter

Mr Hancock will also ask the companies to adopt a ‘zero-tolerance approach’ to those who spread anti-vaccination messages online, following statistics which show measles cases have quadrupled in the UK in just one year.

Mr Hancock has repeatedly threatened new laws to stop the spread of anti-vaccination myths on Facebook and Twitter.

But critics have warned that this risks becoming the first step down a slippery slope to censorship.

Thomas Hughes, of freedom of expression campaign group Article 19, said: ‘Forcing social media companies to decide what information is “false” could lead to censorship, particularly if algorithms are used to remove content automatically.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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