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Social media firms urged to tackle hate

Social media platforms should give people who experience severe or sustained hate and harassment access to personal support from an employee, a coalition of charities is urging.

Charities Against Hate (CAH), a voluntary group of representatives of more than 40 leading charities including The Rooftop News CIC, says platforms are “miles behind other companies” in supporting people who have been harmed or put in danger through using their services.

Currently, victims reporting online abuse often receive no feedback when reporting online abuse.

CAH has published 16 recommendations for social media companies to consider in tackling online hate. The group has previously found that the majority of charity staff and beneficiaries have witnessed online hate.

Alongside quicker access to support, the coalition suggests that stricter penalties and lifetime bans “should be considered at a far earlier stage than they currently are”, that platforms stop recommending and amplifying groups and communities that spread hate, misinformation or violent conspiracies.

The recommendations come as the Government plans to introduce an Online Safety Bill later this year. The Bill will see more regulation for social media platforms, but the Charities Against Hate Coalition has expressed concern to MPs that more needs to be done, and that it may not go far enough to protect the most vulnerable.

Aisling Green, Digital Marketing Strategy Manager at Parkinson’s UK and , who lead the CAH’s Product Recommendations group, said: 

Social media plays an increasingly important and often positive role in our lives. But platforms are miles behind other companies in supporting people who are harmed or put in danger in the course of using a company’s products – instead, victims find it hard to know how to report harassment, and are likely to be met with silence or a painfully slow response.

We hope platforms commit to putting more of their considerable resources into tackling online hate, which can have a devastating effect on users – and to more collaboration between platforms. Making the internet safer is in everyone’s interests.

Other recommendations include greater collaboration between social media, and recognising that tackling online abuse and hate should be an ongoing, long-term process as platforms cannot expect to “fix” online hate once and for all.

The recommendations also suggest that social media platforms should investigate how their own staff are affected by moderating hateful and harmful content, and suggests that charities could provide mental health support and resources for this group.

Charities Against Hate, which was formed in summer 2020 in response to growing concerns about the spread of online hate, has also delivered recommendations to charities and created a toolkit to enable people who have experienced hate online to write to their MP.

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise campaigns.