JOINT

Facebook and Twitter answer questions on online threats to MPs

29 April 2019

The Joint Committee on Human Rights questions senior public policy representatives from Facebook and Twitter.

Previous work on the inquiry

Last week the UK Parliament’s Human Rights Committee heard evidence that threats and intimidation MPs are subjected to through social media constitutes a threat to our democracy, and is causing them to restrict their engagement with the public.

The Committee was told by police and those responsible for MPs’ security that they are dealing with a spiraling number of serious threats directed at MPs. 

What the inquiry is looking into

  • What are tech companies Facebook and Twitter doing to tackle this?
  • Are their community standards and policies sufficiently robust to address this problem, and the wider problems of online abuse?
  • Is their technology being used in the right ways to remove illegal and abusive content?
  • Do they balance the consideration of the right to free speech and protest with the right to privacy and safety?
  • Is it right for them as private companies to decide what the balance should be?
  • What measures are they taking ahead of the European Elections to protect candidates from the threats of violence?

Interviewing MPs on their experiences

As part of this inquiry, the Committee is currently gathering evidence by conducting a series in-depth interviews with MPs on their experiences, allowing the Committee to identify patterns and draw conclusions to make recommendations to authorities.

In evidence so far, threats via social media has been consistently highlighted as one of the major problems. 

Witnesses

Wednesday 1 May, Committee room 1, Palace of Westminster.

At 3.15pm 

  • Rebecca Stimson, UK Head of Public Policy, Facebook
  • Katy Minshall, Head of Public Policy UK, Twitter 

Further information

Image: PC

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