Skip to main content

Social Media: Children

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN HL2246, tabled on 20 July 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce regulations on social media companies, including mandatory design standards, to increase online safety for services that are used by children.

Answered on

27 July 2021

The draft Online Safety Bill, published in May 2021, will ensure companies design their platforms to be safer for users, and particularly for children. The new laws will apply to companies that allow users to post content online or to interact with each other, which includes social media companies. The draft bill will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny in this session. The Joint Committee that will scrutinise the draft Bill has now been set up, and members from both Houses have now been appointed.

The strongest protections in the legislation are for children. Unless social media companies are able to prove that children are not accessing their service, they will need to conduct a child safety risk assessment and provide safety measures for child users, keeping these under regular review. As part of the risk assessment, companies will need to assess how the design and operation of the service may increase or reduce the risks identified.

The government has also published voluntary Safety by Design guidance in June 2021 that will help companies design safer online services. In addition, the Information Commissioner’s Age Appropriate Design Code, which will come into force in September 2021, will set out specific protections for children’s personal data that companies will need to build in when designing online services likely to be accessed by children.