Insights Government sends letter to social media companies on potential online abuse against parliamentary candidates

The Minister for the Cabinet Office, the Home Secretary and the Culture Secretary have written to social media companies in relation to abuse against parliamentary candidates on their platforms.

The letter states that there are “a large number of new candidates who will be unfamiliar with how to seek help if they believe they are being subjected to abuse, and in some cases, illegal activity online”. It also points out that a number of current MPs have already identified the online abuse and threats they receive as a particular concern. Therefore, the letter encourages the platforms to:

  • work together to provide a one-stop-shop piece of advice for candidates that will include what content breaches their terms and conditions, where to report where they believe content may be breaching these, and what response they can expect from the social media companies;
  • work with officials and the political parties to ensure that safety and reporting guidance reach the widest possible audience of candidates and electoral staff as soon as possible;
  • have regular dialogue amongst each other during the campaign to ensure that where content or users are breaching the platform’s terms and conditions, this information is shared in order to reduce a lag time in action as abusive material or users migrate between platforms; and
  • continue to have an open and regular dialogue with the security, policing and electoral authorities. The Government says it will ask officials to liaise with social media platforms on the best way to take this forward.

The letter concludes: “Protecting our democracy and ensuring this election is fought fairly and safely is all our responsibilities. We trust that you are taking the necessary steps to ensure this is the case during the forthcoming election period, and look forward to you providing an update on this”. To read the letter in full, click here.