Yesterday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan did a keynote speech at the music, film and tech festival, SXSW. Khan became the first British politician to speak at the festival, taking to the stage to discuss the impact of technology and call out social media giants.
At a pro-tech event, this was a bit of a curve ball. Khan criticised big technology companies such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for not doing enough to stop fake news, hate speech and harassment that appears on the social platforms. He urged these companies to do more to monitor and regulate social platforms and the content that appears on them, stating that “ultimately, there must be greater responsibility taken by some tech companies for the impact they’re having on the world”.
Online hate speech and harassment just doesn’t seem to be taken seriously enough, and strict regulations and fines should be put in place by governments to try and control it. France and Germany have planted the seed over regulation and privacy, so why can’t the UK and US follow suit? Germany began enforcing a new rule in January that gives social media platforms just 24 hours to decide if something is hate speech.
In a jarring moment (definitely not as amusing as Celebrities Read Mean Tweets) Khan shared his personal experiences of online abuse, reading out six abusive messages that he had been sent on Twitter. And they weren’t from Trump this time either. He also voiced concerns that young people from BAME backgrounds might be put off pursuing a political career because of potential online threats.
Khan criticised governments for not doing enough while the tech revolution happened around them. He stressed “there’s been a dereliction of duty on the part of politicians and policymakers to ensure that the rapid growth in technology is utilised and steered in a direction that benefits us all.”
Tech companies, take note.