Internet companies urged to do more to tackle illegal content

Internet companies must do more to rid their platforms of content that fuels youth violence, the Government has said.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd will press social media firms to step up their response following a spate of murders in London.

The Home Office said gangs often post videos online that "seek to incite violence or glamorise criminality to influence young people".

A spokesman said: "The instant nature of social media also means that plans develop rapidly and disputes can escalate very quickly.

"The Government, voluntary sector and other partners are working with social media companies to ensure measures deliver real results and raise the level of online safety for users.

"We are clear that internet companies must go further and faster to tackle illegal content online.

"It is already an offence to incite, assist or encourage violence online and we will continue to support proactive operational police action to tackle offences perpetrated online."

The Government is finalising plans for a new strategy to tackle serious violence, which is expected to be published next week.

"It will examine how social media usage can drive violent crime and focus on building on the progress and relationships made with social media providers and the police to identify where we can take further, preventative action relevant to tackling serious violence," the Home Office said.

It will also "put a stronger focus on steering young people away from violence whilst continuing to ensure the strongest possible law enforcement response", the department added.

Technology companies have already been pressed by ministers to take a more proactive approach to terrorist and child abuse content.

The latest call for action comes amid mounting concern that social media could be helping drive a deadly spate of violence in London.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

At the weekend Britain's most senior police officer warned that trivial disputes online can escalate "within minutes".

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told The Times: "There's definitely something about the impact of social media in terms of people being able to go from slightly angry with each other to 'fight' very quickly."

Former home secretary Lord Blunkett said the biggest difference between violent crime today and when he was in Government is the "dangerous influence of social media".

Writing in the Daily Mail, he said: "Viral videos make the unthinkable seem normal in no time at all."

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