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Social media giants will be banned from deleting news articles under UK plan

A plan to prevent Twitter and Facebook from indiscriminately deleting hidden articles when shared on social media platforms without proper remedy has been added to the online safety bill, the government has announced.

On Thursday, the government said the move would provide an extra layer of protection for online journalism.

Under the amendment, the largest platforms will have to notify news publishers and provide them with a right of recourse before removing or moderating their content or taking action against their accounts, with articles remaining viewable and accessible even are under review.


The government said news content has been removed or made less visible by moderators or social media algorithms for unclear reasons, often at the height of news cycles.

For example, last year Youtube suddenly removed the channel from TalkRadio, then reinstated it 12 hours later, admitting the move had been a mistake.

YouTube last year reinstated TalkRadio’s channel after an outcry, which was suspended over a potential violation of the tech giant’s ban on content that explicitly contradicts “the consensus of health authority experts local”.

The bill would not currently prevent platforms from removing content from news publishers or making it less visible if they decided to review it for possible violations of their terms and conditions, even if they ultimately found no fault.

Under the new amendment, the largest and most popular social media platforms will now be required to ensure that “articles from recognized news publishers remain visible and accessible on their sites even if they are in progress. review by moderators”.

They will be required to notify news publishers and provide them with a right of recourse before removing or moderating their content or taking any action against their accounts.

This will reduce the risk of platforms making arbitrary or accidental moderation decisions against content from news publishers, he said. This means that instead of being notified that their article has been taken down, news editors will be notified in advance that this will be the case.

“Our democracy depends on people’s access to high-quality journalism and our Global Internet Safety Act brings strong new safeguards for free speech and the press online,” said Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries. .

“Yet we have seen tech companies arbitrarily suppressing legitimate journalism with a complete lack of transparency and it could have a serious impact on public discourse. These additional safeguards will prevent that from happening,” she added.

The government added that “sanctioned media will not benefit from these protections”.

“Ministers intend to change the criteria for determining which organizations qualify as recognized news publishers to explicitly exclude sanctioned organisations,” he wrote.


Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist who covers a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.