HomeInsightsGovernment publishes study showing that majority of public want social media firms to do more to tackle harmful content and then halts progress of Online Safety Bill through Parliament

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The Government says that polling by Ipsos shows over four in five (84%) adults in the UK are concerned about seeing harmful content, such as racism, misogyny, homophobia and content that encourages self-harm, with two in five (38%) reporting having seen it in the last month.

The Government commissioned study found strong public support for the measures contained in the Online Safety Bill, e.g. seven in ten adults (68%) believe social media companies should do more to protect people online.

Four in five adults (78%) want social media companies to be clear about what sort of content is and is not allowed on their platform. In a stark warning to social media companies, 45% of respondents also said they will leave or reduce the amount of time they spend on their platforms if they see no action.

The survey also found that women have high levels of concern about legal but harmful content, with 45% feeling unsafe when talking to people on dating or messaging apps. Most women (65%) agreed there should be limits to the types of content people can post online. Nearly half (47%) of those living in households with at least one child reported having seen abusive content in the last month.

The Online Safety Bill was introduced to Parliament in March 2022. The new laws aim to protect children, tackle illegal content and protect free speech, as well as requiring social media platforms to uphold their stated terms and conditions. The Bill also gives Ofcom additional powers of enforcement. The Bill was due to move to the Report Stage in Parliament (where MPs discuss amendments to the Bill) last week, but following the resignation of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the commencement of the process to elect a new leader of the Conservative Party, the Government confirmed to various media outlets that the Bill is being re-scheduled until the new Prime Minister is in place. With some of the candidates for Tory leader expressing objections to the Bill as it currently stands, it is now uncertain whether and when it will proceed. To read the Government’s press release on the IPSO poll, click here.