Speaking in Davos before her meeting with US President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May warned the World Economic Summit attendees that new forms of technology are being exploited by people with “malevolent intentions,” and called on social media companies to do more to stop their platforms from becoming the “first choice for paedophiles and terrorists”.
“These companies simply cannot stand by while their platforms are used to facilitate child abuse, modern slavery or the spreading of terrorist and extremist content,” said May, adding, “(Online) Platforms can quickly become a safe haven for terrorists…nobody wants to be known as a platform for terror groups or the first choice for paedophiles.”
May also said that the UK should look into the way organised crime can use cryptocurrencies to finance their operations.
“Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, should be looked at very seriously because of the way they can be used, particularly by criminals,” said May.
Earlier this month a group of shareholders demanded that Facebook and Twitter disclose more information about sexual harassment, fake news, hate speech and other forms of abuse that take place on the companies’ platforms.
Britain’s prime minister said that social media companies have a responsibility to use their “best brains” to develop new ways of automatically removing extreme content and false information from their servers.
“These companies have some of the best brains in the world. They must focus their brightest and best on meeting these fundamental social responsibilities,” she said, adding that the public is growing angry at tech firms’ inability or unwillingness to tackle the abuse of social media.
She said that while many people welcomed the freedom the internet had brought this “hasn’t been completely true for everyone.”
May cited recent research by Edelman, a global communications marketing firm, which found that 70% of British subjects believe that social media companies don’t do enough to stop illegal and extreme material from being shared on their platforms.
The study also found that a third of the respondents do not believe that social media is a force for good in society.
May did not offer any comments to the press after her meeting with Trump, but the US president said the White House and 10 Downing Street were “on the same wavelength in every respect”.