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The world’s largest social media platforms are bigger than ever. With Facebook having close to three billion monthly active users, it dominates the social media landscape, leaving Twitter, Instagram and TikTok following behind. But as these websites and apps continue to add more users, moderating content and ensuring that these platforms are safe for all becomes increasingly harder.
The Digital Secretary has urged social media users to do their bit in tackling coronavirus-related “fake news” and backed a five-step plan to fight misinformation. Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden said the public must “remain absolutely vigilant to inaccurate stories” and has recommended online users adopt advice issued by the Centre for Countering Digital (CCDH), a non-profit group researching online hate, in the battle against those peddling falsehoods. Conspiracy theories being shared on social media networks include claims Covid-19 is a biological weapon released by China, while others pin the blame for the deadly virus’ inception on 5G technology masts, according to CCDH findings.
Companies whose worldwide revenues from digital activities exceed £500 million, with more than £25 million of the revenues from UK users, will fall under the digital services tax. It is expected to bring in an extra £65 million this year.With firms across the Atlantic including Google, Amazon and Facebook set to be the main targets of the tax, US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin has previously warned the US could retaliate with tariffs on UK-made cars. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, he said President Donald Trump would raise the issue personally with Boris Johnson.
Official NHS guidance is to be displayed at the top of internet search results as part of measures to stop the spread of disinformation around Covid-19. The health service has highlighted a fake account it had suspended from Twitter after it posed as a hospital and posted inaccurate information about coronavirus cases. The account, claiming to be a hospital in Andover, Hampshire, falsely posted that it had received a number of patients with coronavirus-like symptoms before it was suspended by Twitter.
The Government is to appoint broadcasting regulator Ofcom as a new internet watchdog, with the ability to fine social media companies that do not protect users from harmful content. Culture Secretary Baroness Nicky Morgan and Home Secretary Priti Patel said Ofcom’s existing position as a regulator made it suitable to enforce rules to keep the internet safe.