Hodge calls for ban on social media anonymity after abuse
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Hodge calls for ban on social media anonymity after abuse

Veteran Labour MP, who has faced obscene online abuse, says tech platform owners should be held liable for defamatory content if they allow users to post anonymously.

Dame Margaret Hodge, Parliamentary Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, during a press conference by the JLM at the offices of Mishcon de Reya in London, following the publication of damming anti-Semitism report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Dame Margaret Hodge, Parliamentary Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, during a press conference by the JLM at the offices of Mishcon de Reya in London, following the publication of damming anti-Semitism report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Veteran Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge has called for a ban on social media anonymity, suggesting tech platform owners should otherwise be held liable for defamatory posts.

The 76-year-old MP for Barking in east London has also accused the Government of delaying its Online Harms Bill, which is aimed at protecting internet users.

Dame Margaret, who is Jewish, shared some of the abuse she has received online, including death threats and anti-Semitic accusations she was a “member of a rich & powerful Jewish dynasty” and “evil personified”.

“People argue that anonymity allows proper democratic participation, but I think the harms outweigh the benefits,” she told The Guardian.

She added: “You have got to put in personal liability for the executives and owners of the social media companies.

Screen grab taken from the twitter account of Margaret Hodge, the 76-year-old veteran politician has shared a number of insults that have been levied at her.

“And if you don’t, you won’t get anywhere, and you see that in tax evasion law.”

Her party has also accused the Government of delaying the introduction of the Bill, raising concerns about the spread of medical disinformation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The MP suggested the Government was avoiding difficult conversations with social media companies, adding she was prepared to campaign to ensure tough legislation.

The Guardian also reported research by anti-Semitism monitoring charity Community Security Trust had found 90,000 mentions of Dame Margaret’s name or Twitter handle on the platform during October and November, though some were positive or neutral.

Sharing the The Guardian’s article on Twitter, Dame Margaret said: “I’m determined that we finally end the toxic abuse, hate speech and misinformation that is so widespread on social media.”

Last month, Culture minister Baroness Barran said the draft online harms legislation is expected to be “ready in early 2021”, with responses to a consultation published this year.

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