Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has told the BBC that tech companies could face stricter regulation if they do not take the issue of hate speech “more seriously”.
Speaking to the BBC about the speech he delivered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Texas yesterday, Mr Khan said that it could not be assumed that tech companies would find the solutions by themselves and they had to be “chivvied and cajoled to take action”. The Mayor admitted that “large fines”, in order to force tech companies to do more with regards to hate speech, could be one option.
Hate speech online could put people off entering public life
The Mayor voiced concerns surrounding hate speech on social media putting people off entering public life altogether.
Sadiq Khan told the BBC:
“For too long politicians and policymakers have allowed this revolution to take place around us and we’ve had our heads in the sand.”
He also referred to laws in Germany, where fines of up to €50 million are possible if hate speech isn’t taken down quickly enough.
“Germany is an example of where the German government said ‘Enough. Unless you take down hate messages, unless you take down fake news, we will fine you’”, Mr Khan told the BBC.
“I want to work with the tech companies, but you have to be responsible,” he continued.
Mr Khan described Germany as “an example of what happens if companies don’t self-regulate”.
Sadiq Khan a reluctant participant in ‘verbal fisticuffs’
The Mayor also spoke to the BBC about the ‘verbal fisticuffs’ between himself and President Donald Trump, describing himself as a “reluctant participant”.
“If you are the most powerful man in the western world, and you are amplifying messages from far-right groups, Britain First, that has an impact on many people. That group incites hatred,” the Mayor told the BBC.
“President Trump has lots of followers and some of them have shown interest in me”.
Mayor spoke of insults he had received via social media
In a video released by the Mayors Office London on YouTube yesterday, the sadiq khan spoke out about some of the insults he had received via social media, including one which read “I say KILL the Mayor of London and you will be rid of ONE Muslim Terrorist”.
The Mayor voiced his concerns over what happens when young boys and girls from minority backgrounds come across these kinds of things on their social media timelines. He also spoke about the young girls and women who have “been driven from these platforms, reversing our long fight for gender equality”.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter come with “significant challenges”
He pointed out that although platforms such as Facebook and Twitter had brought huge benefits to society, they also came with “significant challenges”, with evidence of elections and referendums being influenced and “a rise in extreme propaganda and online abuse, misogyny and religious hatred”.
Fake news and the algorithms, which the Mayor said were “blinkering us” from different points of view, were also criticised in the video.
Sadiq Khan also said that it was on “all of us” to tackle the problems social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have posed in our societies.