Sir Nick Clegg, the head of global affairs and communications at Facebook, has been summoned to appear in front of a parliamentary committee to answer questions regarding the harassment of MPs on social media.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has written to Clegg requesting him to provide evidence as part of its investigation into free speech and the online harassment of MPs.
The chair of the JCHR, MP Harriet Harman, stated: “As someone who has yourself been an MP, and is now head of global affairs at Facebook, you are uniquely well placed to give evidence on this. I am sure you will want to help.”
Currently, the JCHR is carrying out an inquiry into “the balance between the right to protest and the right of MPs to be able to go about their work safely and free from threat and harassment.”
It has already gathered evidence from MPs regarding the high levels of harassment that they have received and is investigating the role of social media in hosting abusive material.
Harman said that the committee expects to hear evidence from Clegg early next month, even though it is not yet clear whether the former deputy prime minister has already agreed to appear. Previously, Mark Zuckerberg, the boss and founder of Facebook, has refused to answer questions from the MPs.
Social media websites including Facebook and Instagram are coming under intensifying pressure to police the materials that are posted on their platforms.
Today, Margot James, the Digital minister, said that the upcoming white paper of the government on online harm will set out new laws to make sure that social media sites take down illegal content and prioritise the protection of their users.
In a speech to mark Safer Internet Day, James stated: “For too long the response from many of the large platforms has fallen short.”
He added: “There have been no fewer than fifteen voluntary codes of conduct agreed with platforms since 2008. Where we are now is an absolute indictment of a system that has relied far too little on the rule of law.”
He said that the white paper, which is scheduled to be released in the coming months. He added that it will be followed by a consultation period over the summer.