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Social media firms warned against smuggling

MPs have been told the Home Office will name and shame social media companies that don’t take down material advertising people smuggling.

The security minister, James Brokenshire, said the Government would publish interim codes setting out what social media companies should be doing to address content such as child exploitation and terrorist material. They are due to become part of new laws, enforced by Ofcom, to force platforms to follow a duty of care to their users, or face multi-million-pound fines.

The Immigration Minister, Chris Philp, told the Home Affairs select committee, “They’re not going far enough in my view. I think they sometimes hide behind procedure and policy where common sense would dictate they should take a different course of action.”

Mr Philp told the home affairs committee that companies running platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were leaving adverts for people smuggling online despite having the nature of the content brought to their attention. The National Crime Agency flagged over 1,218 pages to social media companies, yet less than half had been taken down.

Speaking to MPs, Mr Philp stated: “Social media companies are certainly under a moral obligation to take that material down. I think it’s the kind of thing that Parliament and the public should know about. So I would certainly be prepared to name companies who are not acting in a proper manner. It is morally reprehensible for social media companies to leave this material online when it is acting as marketing collateral for criminals.”

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