The text below is an open letter sent to the Sunday Times jointly by the Molly Rose Foundation and NSPCC. (February 17th 2019). If you would like to see the clip from the paper as it apeared, alongside a letter from Anne Longfield, child comissioner for England Click Here.
To Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Susan Wojciki (YouTube), Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Evan Spiegel (Snapchat), Adam Mosseri (Instagram), Ben Silbermann (Pinterest),
Last week, Instagram took an important first step towards addressing the harmful and inappropriate content on its site. We consider its pledge to remove all graphic self-harm images as a necessary and encouraging step.
While this is only one small piece of the jigsaw, it shows that platforms can tackle harmful content and behaviour on their sites if they feel compelled to do so.
Self-harm, suicide, violence, bullying and sexual content should have no place on your sites, yet you have repeatedly failed to enforce your own rules.
And in an NSPCC survey, 60% of adults said they thought social networks did not protect children from inappropriate content and from sexual groomers using your sites to take advantage of significant numbers of children.
As a group of the largest and most influential social networks, we urge you all to raise your voices and commit to making your platforms safer for children.
We implore you to go further than pledging to remove inappropriate content. The harm has already been done by the time this content has appeared online. You must commit to redesigning your sites so they are fundamentally safe for children.
The NSPCC and the Molly Rose Foundation are clear that we need an independent regulator that can enforce a duty of care on platforms and ensure they take consistent action to protect children. This is the only solution that can tackle the full extent of harms in an online environment where abusers jump from platform to platform and children are left to deal with the consequences.
Now is your opportunity to show you want to be on the side of children, and to begin the process willingly. Rather than wait for the forthcoming legislation to force your hand, let society see you are credible and responsible about protecting children.
You have the opportunity to demonstrate real leadership, and if you are willing to commit to substantive and meaningful changes we will applaud your commitment.
The story of Molly Russell’s death has touched our national conscience across the UK and propelled a groundswell of concern about what unregulated social media is doing to our young people. Many other parents have also come forward with their own heart-breaking stories.
Please use your power for good and take this chance to put fundamental protections in place to help keep children safe, both now and for future generations.
Peter Wanless, CEO, NSPCC, and Richard Evens, Trustee, Molly Rose Foundation