POLITICS
13/02/2019 00:01 GMT

Social Media Firms Could Face New Laws Over Knife-Crime Content, Says Sajid Javid

Crackdown threat comes after the government imposed “unforgivable” £8m cut on police forces.

Social media giants could face new laws that force them to remove content glorifying or inciting knife crime, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said. 

The Cabinet minister told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat fresh legislation is needed to stop online platforms being used to fuel violent crime.

YouTube and other sites have faced criticism for hosting violent content, including some related to “drill” music. 

But Javid’s crackdown threat came as the government was also under fire for imposing an “unforgivable” £8m cut on police forces following a 19% nationwide rise in violent crime. 

The home secretary, who has admitted there are 21,000 fewer police officers than in 2010, said more powers were needed to ensure social media companies step up.

Laws already exist to force firms to remove terrorism and child sex abuse images and the home secretary hinted the same powers could be extended to cover knife threats.

He said he was “confident” more could be done, adding: “My message to these [social media] companies is we are going to legislate and how far we go depends on what you decide to do now. 

PA Wire/PA Images
Home Secretary Sajid Javid

He added: “At the moment we don’t have the legislation for these types of [knife-crime-related] content. I have it for terrorist content and child sexual abuse images.”  

Javid, who is viewed as a potential successor to Theresa May, also claimed he forced tech giants to take more responsibility over extremism in the past.

He said: ”I am responsible for other illegal content online like terror and extremism videos. A couple of years back the internet companies were not taking it seriously enough to remove this content from the internet.

“I went over to the US myself and spoke to the five tech giants and said you need to do more, use your own technology, like machine learning and artificial intelligence to sweep the net and find these videos and take them down.

“They are doing an incredible job today and what I want to see is them employing the same emphasis to that [knife-crime-related] content too, it can be done.”

Javid also spoke of the fears around his own children’s safety, telling Newsbeat: “I do worry about my children. My eldest daughter has started going out more than she used to.

“But I do worry, and there are some nights that I’ve stayed up into the early hours of the morning waiting for her to get back home.”