The saying goes, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, then you shouldn’t say anything at all.’ Since social media came into our lives, it has created the easiest way to say something nasty directly to a person. Social media is filled with persons who hide behind their screens to troll strangers, celebrities, companies and organizations.
Most of the social media giants operate as hosts rather than publishers as such they are exempt from being liable for user-generated content if they act to remove content when notified. Facebook, Twitter and other social media giants are obligated to remove illegal content when they are informed of its presence on their platforms. Once a user reports a piece of content, it is reviewed by a human and removed once it is found to violate the terms and conditions of the platform.
Beyond the human review, several of these social media platforms have an automated system which is used as a proactive means of removing content. A conglomeration of the big US tech firms has a database of about 40,000 known pieces of terrorist content that once uploaded on their platforms get taken down within two hours of upload.
Also because of the variation in trigger content, some of which may not exactly breach community standards, users can block or mute individuals, filter out specific keywords or phrases and report content which they deem abusive.
Twitter has anti-abuse filters which block content from certain accounts which have not been verified via a mobile number or email address. They can also freeze accounts which their machine learning system uses to detect signs of abuse.
Public figures also get stronger tools on their account than the average user which gives them advanced filtration systems providing them with a more aggressive version of anti-abuse filters.
Social media companies have the option of reporting abuse directly to the police, but most report of abuse is left to the victim. Some companies make this process easier than others. For example, Twitter provides a summary email of links to messages which can be forwarded to the police, while Facebook has no such system in place. Prosecution for social media abuse can carry six months imprisonment and threats to life can carry possible sentences of 10 years.
Several countries are taking steps to curb the menace of social media abuse. Germany seems to be leading the way as they have made legislation demanding any social network with more than 2 million or more users to remove content which is illegal.
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