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Social media bosses ‘liable over content’

Facebook head: Mark Zuckerberg PICTURE: PA

SOCIAL media executives could be held personally liable for harmful content on their sites, it has been reported.

Proposals set to be published on Monday would include a new statutory duty of care that will be monitored by an independent regulator, likely to be funded by a levy on social media firms, according to The Guardian.

The regulator would have the power to impose substantial fines and hold individual executives personally liable.

Facebook, Google and file-hosting sites could be among those targeted.

The measures follow the case of Molly Russell, whose parents claimed she killed herself partly because of self-harm images viewed on social media.

Last month Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg called for political advertising, privacy and harmful content to be regulated online. ‘I’ve come to believe that we shouldn’t make so many important decisions about speech on our own,’ he posted.

The government plans are also said to include powers to direct the regulator on specific issues such as violent crime, terrorism or child abuse, greater co-operation with the police, and forcing firms to explain how they are tackling harmful content.

Companies will also be asked to follow a code of practice setting out the steps they are taking — including helping users who have suffered harm get support — tackling ‘fake news’ with fact-checking services and being more transparent on political advertising.

In November, home secretary Sajid Javid held summits with tech firms in the US to push them to do more.

A government spokesperson said last night: ‘We have heard calls for an internet regulator and to place a statutory duty of care on platforms, and have seriously considered all options.’