Social media companies must have a “duty of care” - new report

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has concluded that social media companies must be subject to a legal duty of care to help protect young people’s health and wellbeing when accessing their sites.

The committee’s latest report, Impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health, highlights the benefits of social media, while also revealing the potential risks children face when accessing social media. The report suggests what can be done to protect young users when they are online.

The committee’s inquiry included an evidence session with young people talking about positive and negative experiences on social media, and what they’d like to see going forward. One of the young people involved was nominated by Kidscape to give his perspective on online bullying and social media. These views have fed into the committee’s recommendations.

Kidscape CEO Lauren Seager-Smith says:

“We have been saying for years that social media companies should have a legal duty of care to children. They have actively recruited young people to these sites without prioritising their safety or protection. We are starting to see action after immense social pressure but it must go beyond PR stunts. We need full transparency through data sharing, and the use of A.I to detect harm before it occurs. We need an independent body to receive concerns from children and families and quick action to remedy these concerns. We need the safety of children to be a driving mission, not a reluctant after thought. We’re delighted that the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has listened to young voices and put their needs and thoughts at the heart of their recommendations.”
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