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UK cracks down on social media firms for hosting online scams

UK cracks down on social media firms for hosting online scams
Photo Credit: Pixabay
9 Mar, 2022
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In its bid to tackle online unlawful activities, the UK government is strengthening its internet safety laws whereby social media sites and search engines will be compelled to suppress fraudsters and scammers on their platforms. Widening the scope of the upcoming ‘Online Safety Bill’, tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, etc., would take the responsibility in removing fraudulent advertisements, including “catfishing” romance scams and “fake” stock market tips, the British government stated.

Catfishing is the process of luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.

The above amendments are an extension to the scope of the draft Online Safety Bill, which was published in May last year.

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The British government, in an official statement, said that the proposed changes will improve protections for their netizens from ‘fake ads’, including where ‘criminals impersonate celebrities or companies to swindle people’s personal data, peddle dodgy financial investments or break into bank accounts. Furthermore, it is also of the firm view that harmful or misleading adverts, such as those promoting negative body images, and adverts for illegal activities such as weapons sales, could be subject to tougher rules and sanctions.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said that these changes will help stop fraudsters conning people out of their hard-earned cash using fake online adverts. 

“As technology revolutionises more and more of our lives the law must keep up. Today we are also announcing a review of the wider rules around online advertising to make sure industry practices are accountable, transparent and ethical — so people can trust what they see advertised and know fact from fiction,” she affirmed.

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The British government also came up with a consultation on proposals that can tighten the rules for the online advertising industry to improve transparency and accountability and tackle harmful, fraudulent and misleading adverts.

The changes that we are announcing today mean that online and social media companies will have to acknowledge these issues and take robust action to combat the scourge of online fraud, and take more responsibility to protect their users from this high-harm crime. Innocent victims must not be taken advantage of and conned online by fraudsters, notes Damian Hinds, Minister of State for Security and Borders at the UK government.