What is illegal offline should be illegal online” has been the sensible mantra of prime ministers and secretaries of state for a number of years. The aim has been to toughen regulation on social media, in particular over threatening language, stalking and aggressive behaviour.
Now, however, many people are going a step further. Damian Green, the former cabinet office minister, said recently that online media, such as Facebook and the like, deserves more regulation, not less. Last week, his fellow cabinet veteran William Hague proposed making political advertising illegal online, even though it would presumably remain acceptable in print.
The culture, media and sport select committee has also said that government or some arm’s length body should audit the man-made algorithms that dictate how articles appear on Facebook and elsewhere, while presumably not auditing the thought-processes of newspaper editors.