DCMS officials to seek Pinterest talks

Written by Sam Trendall on 5 February 2019 in News
News

Culture secretary reveals he is ‘extremely concerned’ about algorithms

Officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will seek to arrange talks with social media firm Pinterest “as soon as possible” to discuss the government’s concerns about the impact of algorithms used to target users with content.

In a written parliamentary statement, culture secretary Jeremy Wright revealed that civil servants had met with the internet company prior to the 2017 publication of the government’s Internet Safety Strategy green paper.

The consultation that followed has been used to guide the development of a major white paper on online harms that will be published in the coming weeks. 


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The policy document arrives in the wake of growing concern about whether online platforms are doing enough to protect users – particularly young people – from content promoting self-harm or suicide. Last week health secretary Matt Hancock wrote to social media companies to instruct them that “more action is urgently needed”. If firms do not take steps to remove harmful content the government will be swift to “introduce legislation where needed”, Hancock said.

Wright echoed these sentiments.

“We are extremely concerned by recent reports that algorithms are targeting young people with self-harm and suicide images, and we intend to lay out our approach to tackling a range of online harms” he said. “I have instructed my officials to arrange a further meeting with Pinterest as soon as possible.”

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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