A new social media hub to combat violent online content is set to become fully operational in May.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) said the operation, first announced in June of last year, will be set up within the Metropolitan Police Service and involve a staff of 17, tasked with disrupting and removing overt and covert gang related online content.
The hub will bring together a dedicated team to act against online material, focusing on investigative, disruption and enforcement work against specific gang targets. It will also make referrals to social media companies for illegal and harmful content to be taken down immediately.
It has been funded to the tune of £1.38 million by the Home Office and comes after the government published the Online Harms White Paper, which proposes a new statutory duty of care on social media companies and an independent regulator appointed to enforce the new standards.
Javid said: “Social media is increasingly being used as a platform to incite violence, promote gang culture and legitimise the use of knives. I will not let this continue.
“Tech firms have been making progress in tackling this harmful content, but more needs to be done. Our Online Harms White Paper will ensure they have a legal duty to protect their users and by meeting routinely, in forums like the Serious Violence Taskforce, we can continue to hold these companies to account.
“But we also need the strongest possible law enforcement response. The national police social media hub will ensure a team of dedicated officers are identifying and taking action against gang related content.”
The announcement coincides with a meeting of the Serious Violence Taskforce, at which senior leaders from Google and Facebook will update members on the action they are taking to protect vulnerable users from harmful content, including videos promoting violence.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0