Business development · 8 July 2019

More social media regulation supported by UK public

Social media regulation supported by UK public

A new report published in collaboration with the national data protection watchdog, the ICO, and the UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, has revealed UK attitudes to social media regulation.

The report, which surveyed over 2,057 adult users and 1,001 children, has shown that the majority of people would like to see more regulation when it comes to social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

Over 70% of adults surveyed said they would like to see more stringent regulations implemented. This marks a considerable rise from the previous year, where just over half (52%) had said they wanted social media platforms to be more strictly regulated. 

Adults also expressed support for more online regulation when it came to instant-messaging services (61% in 2019 compared to the previous year), and for video-sharing sites too (64% up from 46% previously).

Concerns about being online

The number of adults concerned about going online has also risen considerably compared to last year’s survey. Over 78% of adults in the report stated they had concerns, compared to 59% last year.

Moreover, 83% of adults polled expressed concerns about the potential harm of online content to children and the effect this could have on their mental health.

This creates additional challenges for advertisers, marketers and creative agencies in terms of how they promote clients for themselves and their clients.

A rise in harmful online experiences

In addition, amongst both adults and children surveyed in the joint report, there has been a rise in the number of people who stated that they had a potentially harmful online experience in the past year.

Over 61% of adults stated that they had experienced what could be considered as potentially harmful content. 

When it came to children who were involved in the survey (between the ages of 12 and 15) a shocking 79% said that they had experienced at least one potentially harmful experience within the past 12 months.

When it came to defining what was considered as a harmful experience online in the survey, the definition was fairly broad: it could include experiences that were anything from ‘mildly annoying to seriously harmful’.

Positive outcomes from the report

Whilst the report highlighted some potential issues concerning attitudes amongst adults and children regarding social media, there were some positive outcomes.

The benefits of the internet

For example, the report showed that the majority of polled adults (59%) stated that they believed the advantages of going online outweigh potential disadvantages. Similarity: the majority of children who were surveyed (61%) believed that the internet made their lives better overall.

Supporting free speech

Furthermore, almost half of adult internet users (47%) believed that websites and social media platforms have helped to play a significant role in supporting free speech, ‘even where some people might find the content offensive’.

Positive attitudes about data sharing

When it came to managing their personal data, the majority of users (74%) said they were confident in being able to do so. Meanwhile, the majority of UK adults polled said that there were happy for firms to collect their data under certain conditions.

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