Social media apps will indeed have to take steps to shield children from dangerous stunts and challenges. Changes to the online safety bill will require social media firms to protect children from encountering content that promotes or provides instructions for challenges or stunts highly likely to result in serious injury`. For example, platforms like TikTok have faced criticism for featuring dares such as the blackout challenge and precarious milk crate stacks, which pose significant risks to users’ safety.
Under the updated legislation, social media companies will be required to proactively prevent children from accessing the highest-risk forms of content, including material that encourages suicide, self-harm, or other harmful behaviors.To enforce this, tech companies may be required to deploy age-checking methods to prevent minors under the age of 18 from viewing such content. Additionally, the bill will introduce tougher age-checking measures to prevent children from accessing pornography, aligning social media platforms with the measures already in place for mainstream sites like Pornhub.
This means that sites that publish or enable pornography will have to install highly effective age-checking methods, such as age estimation algorithms that use selfies to determine someone’s age.The legislation also includes other amendments aimed at protecting individuals online. It requires the communications watchdog Ofcom to produce guidance for tech firms on protecting women and girls online, consulting with the domestic abuse commissioner and victims commissioner to ensure the guidance reflects the voices of victims.
Furthermore, the bill criminalizes the sharing of deepfake intimate images and requires platforms to offer adult users the option to avoid content that promotes self-harm, eating disorders, or racism. Once the law comes into force, breaches will carry hefty penalties, including fines of up to £18 million or up to 10% of global turnover. In extreme cases, Ofcom will have the authority to block platforms.
These changes in legislation aim to provide stronger protections for children and create a global standard for protecting children online. The government’s goal is to ensure that the lives of children are not put at stake when they go online, whether that involves facing abuse or viewing harmful content that could have devastating impacts.