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Social media bullying: Stroud MP presents bill to parliament

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Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie has presented a bill to parliament designed to limit hate and harassment from anonymous social media accounts.

The Ten-Minute Rule Bill called the Social Media Platforms (Identity Verification) Bill was put forward yesterday in the House of Commons.

The proposed legislation is part of Siobhan’s campaign to stop people from being exposed to anonymous accounts peddling hate, misinformation and inciting violence.

Ms Baillie was a victim of abuse when she took four weeks’ maternity leave following the birth of her daughter in 2020.

The bill wants to give all social media users the right to verify their identity if they choose. It also aims to give them the option to only follow or be followed by verified accounts.

Another proposal is for social media platforms to make it clear which accounts are verified with a blue tick scheme. 

Crucially, it does not look to ban anonymous accounts, only give users options and control of how to interact with them.

“I was really pleased with the positive reaction to the bill from all sides of the House of Commons,” she said.

“Its aim is to raise awareness of my campaign and how the simple measures in the Bill could limit the scope and effectiveness of anonymous accounts that peddle hate and harassment.

“Victims tell me that anonymous perpetrators are the most frightening and that social media platforms do little to stop them. Trying to trace abusers can take years.

“The Bill is asking the government to make it harder for anonymous abuse to do its deadly and corrosive work. 

“It gives me an opportunity to highlight the strength of public and cross-party support for action on anonymous accounts. 

“I want the government to consider adopting my proposals into its Online Safety Bill. This is my ultimate goal.”

Opinium polling shows that 73% of adults ‘support government action to reduce the number of anonymous accounts on social media platforms’.

Over 72% of UK victims of online abuse say they have experienced abuse or harassment from anonymous accounts.

The second reading of the bill will take place on 18th March next year.

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