Online Safety Bill: social media execs could face prison if they break rules

The new culture secretary has warned tech giant bosses that if they don’t remove their “harmful algorithms” they could face criminal prosecution.

At a parliamentary committee about the draft Online Safety Bill, Nadine Dorries, who became secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport last month, said that executives at social media platforms would be deemed liable for hateful content online 18 months earlier than had originally been planned.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said that the government will bring forward the second reading of the Bill by the end of 2021.

“There is the criminal liability on individuals and I think [for] people like Mark Zuckerberg and Nick Clegg and others who are wanting to take off into the metaverse — my advice would be: stay in the real world . . . you will be accountable,” said Dorries at the committee meeting, as reported by The Times.

The recently appointed culture secretary was referring to recently announced plans from Meta, formerly Facebook, to develop the metaverse - a new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality.

In October, the company announced plans to create 10,000 new jobs across the European Union to help develop the metaverse.

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