NSPCC: Prosecute web firms that leave children at risk

NSPCC calls on social media sites to face criminal sanctions and fines for failing to keep children safe and breaching duty-of-care laws

  • The NSPCC has drawn up plans for criminal sanctions for social media sites
  • Charity said the sanctions were necessary to ’embed’ regulatory compliance 
  • It comes following the death of Molly Russell, 14, who took her own life
  • The NSPCC said legislation should be modelled on corporate manslaughter laws 

The NSPCC said the plans were needed to ‘embed’ regulatory compliance after the death of Molly Russell, 14 (pictured)

The NSPCC is calling for social media sites to face criminal sanctions and fines if they breach statutory duty-of-care laws.

Ministers are to publish a White Paper setting out legislation that could make Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter more accountable for stopping children setting up accounts.

Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, has already demanded that the web giants fulfil a duty of care towards children and stop making social media platforms deliberately addictive to young users

Now the NSPCC has drawn up plans that go further to improve online safety for children – the first time a scheme for criminal rather than civil sanctions has been spelt out.

The charity said this was needed to ‘embed’ regulatory compliance after the death of Molly Russell, 14, who took her own life after viewing self-harm images. Her father blamed Instagram for the death. 

The NSPCC said legislation should be modelled on corporate manslaughter laws, allowing social media firms to be prosecuted if they fail to prevent harm to children on their sites.


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YouTube stars, who often have millions of young fans, have posted videos of themselves promoting ‘mystery box’ games and apparently winning hi-tech prizes

The charity’s intervention came as the children’s commissioner said social media firms that failed to tackle so-called influencers who lure children into gambling should face fines – or be forced out of business.

YouTube stars, who often have millions of young fans, have posted videos of themselves promoting ‘mystery box’ games and apparently winning hi-tech prizes. Users pay to open a box without knowing its contents, which range from cheap toys to expensive phones.

Children’s commissioner Anne Longfield

Children’s commissioner Anne Longfield said social media firms had done ‘very little’ to tackle selling and promotion by influencers, and urged the Government to legislate.

She said: ‘If companies chose not to follow the legal requirements, there could be fines and shutdowns. It makes those platforms responsible for what goes on them in a way that they haven’t yet been to date.’

YouTube said content creators should make any payment to promote brands clear, and warned it could remove unsuitable content.

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