Question to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism is included in any discussions with a potential regulator on holding social media companies accountable for content hosted on their platforms.
The Government is committed to tackling racism, including the spread of antisemitic content online. On 12 May 2021, we published the draft Online Safety Bill, which sets out new expectations on companies to keep their users safe online. Under a new legal duty of care, in-scope companies, including social media, will need to tackle illegal antisemitic content and activity on their services.
In addition, companies providing high-risk, high-reach services will need to assess the risk to adults of legal but harmful content on their services and set clear terms and conditions stating what legal but harmful material they accept (and do not accept) on their service. Companies will have to do this for both priority harms which the government will set out in secondary legislation and for any emerging harms they identify in their risk assessments.
These duties will apply to antisemitic hate speech, which does not meet the threshold of a criminal offence. Companies will need to enforce their terms and conditions consistently and transparently, and could face enforcement action if they do not. All companies in scope will be required to have effective and accessible user reporting and redress mechanisms.
From now onwards we will be working with stakeholders and parliamentarians alike on identifying priority harms, and they will be subject to the usual secondary legislation processes. Ofcom will be responsible for advising the government regarding the list of priority categories of harm, based on evidence of the prevalence and impact of harmful content. Government will not be bound to follow this advice.