Social media companies 'should issue yellow and red cards to stop abuse'

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Social media companies should have a system of yellow and red cards to stop people using the platforms to perpetrate abuse, an MP has suggested.

Tory Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) said social media platforms had a role to play in stamping out online harassment as he proposed the penalty card system.

During a debate on the abuse and intimidation of candidates and the public during the General Election, Mr Chalk said: "Social media platforms do have a role to play in all this, because so many people get fed up with reporting abuse but then nothing seems to happen to the individual who perpetrates it.

Conservative MP Alex Chalk (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Conservative MP Alex Chalk (Jonathan Brady/PA)

"Isn't it vitally important if the social media companies are serious about upholding their house rules that they issue a system of yellow cards and red cards if necessary to stop people having the platform they need to perpetrate this vile abuse?"

Home Office minister Sarah Newton replied: "We do expect social media companies when they are notified of this type of abuse and harassment and bullying that's going on to take that material down, and of course the police have the power to request for that material to be taken down as well.

"It's very important that people report instances of hate crime and it's very important that they are then followed up and prosecuted."

Tory MP Alex Chalk said social media platforms had a role to play in stamping out online harassment (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Tory MP Alex Chalk said social media platforms had a role to play in stamping out online harassment (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Mr Chalk said social media companies had shown themselves to be "incredibly reluctant" to ensure there are consequences for perpetrators of abuse - "no doubt for financial reasons" - and they need to "reassess".

"It's got to go beyond simply deleting an offensive post, it's got to go to ensuring there are consequences for the perpetrator in terms of having their account suspended or even deleted," he said.

Ms Newton said there "must be consequences for perpetrators of hate crime" and said it was essential for people to report crimes to the police.