The Brief

Social media has changed the landscape of communication for millions across the globe. The benefits that social networks can bring are plentiful and well documented, but the harm that many people have suffered through abusive or negative engagement with other users on these platforms can be troubling.

Professor Lorna Woods and William Perrin set out to describe a regulatory system for reducing harm from and on social media for UK users.

In their detailed series of blog posts, they outline a system where legislation creates a statutory duty of care for the largest social networks towards their users, backed up by a regulator. This work seeks to most effectively balance the competing tensions of reducing harm, maintaining free speech, democratic oversight, corporate risk aversion and political intervention.


Blog 1. The opening post puts forth the belief that society can rein in the harm on social media that negatively impacts what should and could be a great force for good.

Blog 2. The second post outlines how a social media regulation regime could work in practice.

Blog 3. In Europe there are many examples of effective regulation outside the digital and media sphere that limits harm to people, several examples are explored in this post.

Blog 4. This post offers a non-technical overview discussion of ‘duty of care’ on the largest social media service providers to their users.

Blog 5. To balance regulation and free speech, the view is to only regulate the largest or most harmful platforms. This post sets out how to choose which platforms to include.

Blog 6. A key goal of this work is to enable a perpetual, transparent cycle of harm reduction. This post examines how practically a regulator would work on a risk-managed basis with companies, users, victims and civil society to create this cycle.

Blog 7. The final post explores who would regulate the regime. It includes a survey of the landscape and concludes OFCOM would be the optimal body, funded by a share of the internet revenue tax.


This is an ongoing project and any comments or views would be welcomed at [email protected]


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