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Online Harms White Paper - expert comment

skilton.jpgCommenting on the proposals within the Online Harms White Paper, Mark Skilton, professor of practice at Warwick Business School, said:

"It is well established that social media platforms amplify messages that can be misused and we do need some form of regulation.

"Facebook, Twitter, Google and the like are commercial organisations, not utilities or elected representatives. Many of these companies are seeking some form of self-regulation, but their response so far resembles a whack-a-mole at a fairground.

"Facebook claims it has 30,000 people tackling abusive content and fake news, but that is not enough. The problem is the source of the content and the lack of control over the platform.

"But who decides what is free speech and what framework of control do you put in place when someone crosses those red lines?

"Politicians need to work with technical experts on the shared problem of providing some level of guidance and control that is not excessively intrusive.

"Issuing large fines and hitting companies with bigger legal threats is taking a 20th century bullwhip approach to a problem that requires a nuanced solution.

"It needs machine learning tools to manage the 21st century problems of the internet, combined with the courage and foresight to establish independent frameworks that preserve the freedoms societies enjoy in the physical world, as well as the online one.

"We can stop the fake news and terror, but the long term health of our democracy is at stake here too."

8 April 2019


Warren Manger

Media Relations Officer

Warwick Business School

University of Warwick


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