Idea sharing apps like Snapchat, TikTok and OnlyFans could be fined millions of pounds if they fail to act on hate speech and inappropriate content on their platforms under strict new rules introduced by Ofcom.
Britain’s broadcast regulator today introduced rules governing the UK-based video sharing platform in the first European. Companies must now legally crack down on things like hate speech and child pornography on their apps, make sure underage kids aren’t able to sign up and make sure users can report inappropriate content.
Dame Melanie Dawes said, “Online videos now play a huge role in our lives, especially for children.” “But many people see hateful, violent or inappropriate content when using them.
“The platforms on which these videos are shared now have a legal duty to take steps to protect their users. That’s why we’re increasing surveillance of these tech companies, as well as gearing up to tackle a wider range of online pitfalls in the future. “
The action follows growing concern about content on some of these platforms, including inappropriate and underage sexual content and radicalizing hate speech. Ofcom’s research found that a third of users have viewed hateful content on the video-sharing platform, a quarter have seen violent or disturbing content, and one in five have viewed racist content.
Ofcom is already exposed to multiple video platforms but the new guidelines are likely to include far greater transparency and surveillance.
Unlike broadcast TV, Ofcom will not decide on individual pieces of content hosted on the platform, but the regulator will regularly inspect companies to ensure they are complying with regulations. If platforms are found to fail, they could face fines of up to 5% of turnover or up to £250,000, whichever is larger. In extreme cases Ofcom could shut down non-compliant companies’ UK operations.
UK revenue for the likes of TikTok and OnlyFans currently runs in the hundreds of millions, meaning platforms of this scale could face fines in the millions if they violate the rules.
Ofcom’s guidelines will initially cover 18 platforms, including smaller apps like Twitch and Vimeo. The rules will be toughest for platforms hosting pornographic content like OnlyFan. The likes of YouTube and Facebook, which are domiciled in Ireland, will not be covered.
Ofcom is the first regulator in Europe to introduce rules governing these platforms, although the regulation stems from plans made by the European Union while the UK was still a member.