Police anti-gang social media hub to launch next month
A new national police social media hub that will “identify and take action against gang-related content” will be fully operational by the end of May, the Home Secretary has confirmed.
Sajid Javid said: “Social media is increasingly being used as a platform to incite violence, promote gang culture and legitimise the use of knives. I will not let this continue.”
The Government-funded team of 17 police officers and staff will be tasked with disrupting and removing overt and covert gang-related online content.
The social media hub will be established within the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), transforming the current capability and extending its reach to other forces. In addition to disrupting online gang activity the hub will also make referrals to social media companies so that illegal and harmful content can be taken down immediately.
Mr Javid confirmed the start date while chairing the latest meeting of the Serious Violence Taskforce, during which senior executives from Google and Facebook gave updates on the actions they were taking to protect vulnerable users from harmful content.
The discussions follow the recent launch of the Government’s Online Harms White Paper, which proposes a new statutory duty of care on social media companies and an independent regulator appointed to enforce the new standards.
“Tech firms have been making progress in tackling this harmful content, but more needs to be done,” said Mr Javid. “Our Online Harms White Paper will ensure they have a legal duty to protect their users and by meeting routinely, in forums like the Serious Violence Taskforce, we can continue to hold these companies to account.
“But we also need the strongest possible law enforcement response. The national police social media hub will ensure a team of dedicated officers are identifying and taking action against gang-related content.”
MPS Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball, the national lead for gangs, County Lines and knives, said: “Police are committed to doing everything we can to tackle violent crime and the impact that it has on our communities. Social media is playing a role in escalating violence between young people and enabling content that glamorises or encourages violence and crime.
“This funding from the Home Office is welcome and enables us to continue developing our capability to tackle violence that originates online. By working together with social media companies we will ensure that material that lures young people into a dangerous, violent life of crime, and encourages violence is quickly dealt with to cut off this outlet for gangs and criminals.”