Charities call for stricter penalties for people who engage in online hate

Social media platforms should enforce stricter penalties for individuals who engage in hate speech or harassment online, and provide support to victims of such abuse, according to a coalition of charities.

Charities Against Hate, a campaign group that includes representatives of more than 40 charities, has published 16 recommendations for social media companies to consider in tackling online hate.

The group said platforms are “miles behind other companies” in supporting people who have been harmed or put in danger by using their services.

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”, and that platforms stop recommending and amplifying groups and communities that spread hate, misinformation or violent conspiracies.

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

Social media platforms should also investigate how their own staff are affected by moderating hateful and harmful content, and the group suggests charities could provide mental health support and resources for those affected.

The recommendations come as the government plans to introduce an Online Safety Bill later this year.

The bill will propose more regulation for social media platforms, but Charities Against Hate said it might not go far enough to protect the most vulnerable.

Aisling Green, digital marketing strategy manager at Parkinson’s UK, and who leads CAH’s product recommendations group, said: “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.”

Previous research by the group found the majority of charity staff and service users said they had witnessed online hate.

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