Ofcom Plans Powers to Suspend Social Networks Should They Not Act on Harmful Images

By Gary Cutlack on at

Communications regulator Ofcom is preparing for the day it's given the dread responsibility for controlling content across the social networks, and has said it anticipates being able to fine network operators – and possibly temporarily suspend entire platforms – should they not get it together with troubling content quickly enough.

These measures are on the wishlist of Ofcom's chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes, who was speaking to MPs within the the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. The government has not yet decided on who's getting the staggeringly terrible job of trying to regulate all of social media, but it's naturally assumed that Ofcom's best placed.

Dawes is excited about helming a major new source of revenue for the government, as she says fines for lapses in moderation would be the key part of the process, pointing out that the social networks have "significant financial muscle" and if the government can rake in a few tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds each time something dodgy slips through the filters... well, we should be able to fund HS2 through to HS99 with enough money left over for a nice universal basic income scheme. That's us imagining a Facebook-funded nirvana, not Dame Dawes.

The exec also says she expects a future Ofcom-run social regulation regime to target the vast numbers of anonymous accounts, particularly the ones running riot on Twitter with flags in their bios, adding that "Transparency at the moment is just not good enough." [BBC]