Social media regulation backed by more than nine in 10 Scots, poll suggests
The NSPCC campaign Taming The Wild West Web is supported by Ruth Moss, whose daughter Sophie took her own life at the age of 13.
The vast majority of adults in Scotland would back social network regulation, according to a new survey.
Of the 255 Scottish adults polled for the NSPCC, 91% supported statutory regulation while 63% disagreed that social networks protect children from sexual grooming.
It comes as part of a wider survey that found nine in 10 adults across the whole of Britain also supported the idea of regulation.
The charity’s campaign, Taming The Wild West Web, is calling for the introduction of a “robust independent regulator” to force social networks to protect children on their platforms.
Ruth Moss, of Edinburgh, whose daughter Sophie took her own life at the age of 13, is backing the campaign.
She described how it felt after finding out her teenager had looked at self-harm and suicide content on social media.
Ms Moss said: “Sophie’s death devastated me. No mother, or family, should have to go through that.
“It was so unnecessary, she had so much to live for. She was only 13.
“I found out that she had been looking at completely inappropriate things online.
“Some of the images were so graphic that even as an adult, I was shocked.
“She was also communicating with people in their 30s and pretending to be older than she was, under a made up persona.
“Whilst the internet was heavily controlled at home and at school, Sophie had free Wi-Fi when she was out, making it very hard to ‘police’ her internet use 24 hours a day.”
She added: “Social networks should have a duty of care to protect children and vulnerable people from damaging material and self-regulation is clearly not working.
“The protection of our children is too important to leave to the goodwill of large, profit-orientated organisations.
“Statutory regulation is needed and as a matter of urgency.”
The proposed regulator would have legal powers to investigate firms – who would require to meet a set of minimum standards – and impose tough sanctions for failures including fines of up to 20 million euro (£17.5 million).
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “The support for statutory regulation of social networks is now overwhelming.
“It is clear that society will no longer tolerate a free for all under which tech firms allow children to operate in a precarious online world with a myriad of preventable risks.
“Social media bosses should be made to take responsibility for the essential protection of children on their platforms and face tough consequences if they don’t.
“Over a decade of self-regulation has failed, and enough is enough.”
He added: “The Government’s Online Harms White Paper must impose a legal duty of care on social networks.
“Our proposal to tame the Wild West Web would make the UK a world leader in protecting children online.
“We urge the Government to be bold and introduce these measures without delay.”
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