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IGTV child abuse videos show social media needs regulation, according to Damian Collins MP



Damian Collins
Damian Collins

Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for
Foundation For Sports Integrity

  • Conservative politician Damian Collins called for new
    rules to create a “commercial incentive” for social media
    companies to effectively moderate their content, after being
    shown evidence from a Business
    Insider investigation into Instagram’s new service
  • Business Insider discovered during a three-week
    investigation that IGTV’s algorithm recommended disturbing and
    potentially illegal videos, with some of the material being
    referred to the police.
  • Collins has called for tighter regulation of tech
    companies before, and is leading a parliamentary probe into
    fake news.

Damian Collins, the British Conservative MP leading a
parliamentary inquiry into fake news, called for tighter
regulation of social media companies after being presented with

a Business Insider investigation into Instagram’s new service

Business Insider’s investigation revealed that
IGTV’s algorithm recommended disturbing and potentially illegal
, including suggestive footage of young girls and
apparent penis mutilation. The videos were reported to the police
after being flagged by Business Insider.

When Business Insider presented its findings to Collins, he
described them as “very disturbing,” and said Instagram needs to
do a better job of policing its platform.

“It’s a question of the responsibility of the companies to
monitor the content that’s on their platforms,” he said. “A lot
of the problematic content is already in breach of the community
guidelines of these services, but what it shows is that there’s
not effective enforcement.”

Collins also pointed out that services like Instagram are
monetised, and therefore the point of regulation would be to
financially incentivise companies to invest in properly
moderating their content.

“These companies are ad services — they make money out of
understanding every single thing you could ever want to know
about your users so you can target them with advertising,” he
said. “That same technology should surely very easily be able to
root out harmful content as well.”

“They don’t do it because there’s not been a commercial incentive
for them to do it, so they’ve just not bothered. But what we have
to do through regulation is create that incentive, to say,
‘You’ve actually got an obligation to do it and if you don’t do
it, then there will be costs for you for not complying, so you
need to invest in doing this now.'”

This is not the first time Collins has called for government
action to regulate tech companies. In July, the UK’s
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (of which Collins is
published a report which presented unregulated social media as a
threat to democracy
. “We are facing nothing less than a
crisis in our democracy – based on the systematic manipulation of
data to support the relentless targeting of citizens, without
their consent, by campaigns of disinformation and messages of
hate,” Collins said at the time.

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