Social media companies are being urged – yet again – to take more responsibility for content posted on digital platforms.
Internet giants have previously been rapped by MPs for their failure to remove abusive hate speech. Now, they have come under fire again, this time over tackling “pretty relentless” online anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, wants offending material to be deleted immediately after being posted and says social media companies must step up and intervene when it is being spread on their platforms.
They would do well to heed her calls. The row over allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party and the recording of more than 100 anti-Semitic incidents across the UK in the first six months of 2018 by the Community Security Trust – a charity which works to protect the country’s Jewish community – underline the prevalence of the issue in British society.
It is something that must be tackled both in the online world and in real life and it is vital therefore that platforms play their role in stamping out intolerance and abuse and are held accountable for doing so.
The scale of the challenge does not go unrecognised; of course, it is difficult to police the comments of millions of internet users, as it is to police the words and actions of individuals in the physical world. But if these firms take anti-Semitism and hate speech “incredibly seriously”, as the likes of Facebook claim, they must send out a clear message that there is no place for such material online by taking prompt and consistent action to remove it.