The digital age has brought numerous benefits, but it has also brought new dangers, particularly when it comes to our children and their safety online. As a member of the joint committee on the Online Safety Bill, I have been working with Go Bubble, a provider of social media filtering technology, to tackle this issue head on.
At the core of the Online Safety Bill are two interrelated factors: bad actors who deliberately or carelessly cause harm to others both physically and mentally, and the systems and processes in the online world that personalize and amplify harmful content from these bad actors. With 44% of all global advertising spending going to Meta and Alphabet-owned businesses in 2021, their platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, prioritise engagement time over all else, often at the cost of our safety and well-being.
These platforms are not all bad, but the harms of manipulation and corruption are real and urgent, and it is up to us to act.
The Online Safety Bill must aim to impose ethics on the algorithms used by these platforms, to protect vulnerable adults, to prevent the corruption of truth and democracy, and to provide better protections for freedom of expression, particularly for women and girls. Teachers, parents, and grandparents need more education and help to keep up with what is going on in the online world, and the bill must ensure that Ofcom is properly independent and gives young people more influence over the regulator.
This is a critical issue that requires our immediate attention and action. We must work together to pass a bill that prevents harm, criminalises abusers, and puts human ethics at the forefront of these machines of mass manipulation. As a 22-year veteran in Parliament, I am eager to tackle this challenge head on and make the online world a safer place for everyone.
Written by Lord Jim Knight, Chair Emeritus