UK media regulator Ofcom said online video sharing platforms (VSPs), such as TikTok, Snapchat and OnlyFan, need to provide clear rules on content, flag harmful videos to users and restrict access to pornographic content.
Under laws in force in the UK last year, VSPs must take reasonable steps to protect all their users from illegal content, particularly those under the age of 18.
Ofcom, which is responsible for enforcing the rules, published guidance for VSPs on Wednesday, saying it wanted to see noticeable improvements over time in security procedures and complaint procedures.
Chief executive Melanie Dawes said online videos played a huge role in people’s lives, especially for children, but that many users saw hateful, violent or inappropriate content while using them.
“The platforms on which these videos are shared now have a legal duty to take steps to protect their users,” he said.
“That’s why we’re increasing our surveillance of these tech companies, as well as being prepared to tackle a wider range of online pitfalls in the future.”
Ofcom said its research showed that a third of users said they had seen or experienced hateful content; a quarter claimed to have been exposed to violent or disturbing material; While one in five had seen content promoting racism.
The regulator’s remit includes platforms established in the UK, which initially numbered 18. Platforms established in other countries such as YouTube and Facebook are excluded.
If it learns that a VSP has failed to take appropriate measures to protect users, it will be able to investigate and take action, which may include fines or – in the most severe cases – suspension or restriction of service.
© Thomson Reuters 202