A petition initially launched by model and media personality, Katie Price, in order to tackle online hate has gained momentum again over the past few days and now has over half a million signatures, and this number continues to grow.
Social media users and popular influencers are actively campaigning online to identify those who are perpetrators of online hate and racist abuse, as unfortunately, many internet trolls and cyberbullies hide behind private accounts and false names.
The petition aimed at cracking down on online abuse has been created to put further rulings in place that The Online Harms Bill doesn’t yet cover, ultimately, making online abuse a specific criminal offence.
Making it a legal requirement when opening a new social media account, to provide a verified form of ID will remove anonymity, ensuring that users who have been seen to be sharing online hate will be named, and punished accordingly. If the account belongs to a person under the age of 18, the ID of a parent or guardian would have to be provided, to prevent anonymised harmful activity, providing traceability if an offence occurs.
As influencers, celebrities, and those with large followings continue to share this petition, the audiences of these people are influenced and engaged to help towards making a change. With signatures on the petition increasing, we continue to get closer to the government discussing putting this law in place. The introduction of this ruling would put positive steps in place in regards to protecting the mental health of social media users, putting sanctions in place to punish offenders.
However, discussions have also been raised as to whether asking all social media users to provide official ID is possible for many. Due to many situations such as finances, not identifying with the sex on your ID, and citizenship, it is likely there would be many people who turn to social media as their escape who would not be able to verify their ID.
Opening this discussion, whether the ruling that the petition is fighting for is passed, or whether an alternative plan is put in place, social media users continue to raise the importance of conversations in regards to online hate and the effects it can have on the mental health of others.