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Remove violent Hamas content, UK tells social media bosses

Hamas social media violent content
Image credit: Maurice NORBERT / Shutterstock.com

The UK’s technology secretary held an “urgent meeting” with social media companies demanding that they remove violent content of Hamas’ attack on Israel from their platforms.

Michelle Donelan on Wednesday summoned representatives from Google, Meta, X, TikTok and Snapchat to ask the social media companies to confirm in writing what actions they taking to “stop Hamas and supporters pushing wicked terrorism to the world”.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Donelan added: “A wave of violence and antisemitism has swept across social media.”

A deluge of misinformation and violent imagery has proliferated online since Hamas launched a deadly attack against Israel on Saturday.

The death toll in Israel has reached 1,200 and more than 900 people have been killed in Gaza.

“Today, I talked to platforms about how they can and must stop Hamas and supporters pushing wicked terrorism to the world,” Donelan said. “I’ve asked them to confirm in writing the actions they are taking.”

The tech secretary told the social media leaders during a virtual meeting to ramp up their content safeguarding, particularly to prevent children from viewing harmful content.

Some schools in Israel, the US and the UK have told Jewish parents to delete social media from their children’s phones over concerns that they will see videos of hostages.

It comes as the UK’s Online Safety Bill awaits Royal Assent. Once law, it will grant Ofcom greater powers to compel social media firms to remove illegal content from their platforms.

Yesterday Thierry Breton, an EU commissioner that oversees regulation of social media companies, told X owner Elon Musk that it has “indications that your platform is being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU”.

Musk, replying on X, said: “Our policy is that everything is open source and transparent, an approach that I know the EU supports.

“Please list the violations you allude to on X, so that the public can see them.”

Breton replied: “You are well aware of your users’ — and authorities’— reports on fake content and glorification of violence.

“Up to you to demonstrate that you walk the talk.”

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