G7 speakers to call on social media platforms to clamp down on trolling

G7 Speakers’ Conference. Credit: PA Media

G7 speakers are poised to urge social media platforms to prevent trolling after attending a conference discussing security issues in parliaments.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, said he would work with police to prosecute anyone making online threats, adding legislation could be considered if necessary.

Speaking at the end of the G7 Speakers’ Conference, which was held in his constituency of Chorley in Lancashire, Sir Lindsay said social media companies did want to engage.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle holding a bilateral meeting at Astley Hall Credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

He told the PA news agency: “It’s about working together to make people safe and what we’ve got to do is get rid of that hate, that acceptance that somebody can wake up at three in the morning and decide to start putting abuse up against people.

“It’s not acceptable and it must be prosecuted.

“And I will be quite honest with you, if people put threats up there, I will work with the police to prosecute. That’s how much it matters to me.”

He added: “And I think there’s a role that we’ve got to say to them, get your act together, if you don’t we will legislate against you.”

Sir Lindsay said women MPs “get the real brunt” of the abuse on social media, which he described as “not acceptable”.

He said: “Well, it goes to say social media is a wonderful thing but it’s also a horrible thing at the same time.

“The fact is that people use social media for hate to rant, to shout and abuse people – threaten them with rape or murder.”

The Speaker said even he had experienced threats on social media.

Sir Lindsey Hoyle during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Credit: PA

He said: “The fact is, these people who want to say ‘I want to murder him’, ‘I want to target him’, somebody had claimed they were going to put a bomb under my car, these are the kinds of things that we shouldn’t tolerate, we shouldn’t accept.

“So we’ve got to stamp them out together and call it out. And that’s what’s so important.”

Delegates at the conference attended four panels on the theme of secure versus open parliaments – including how to balance public access while keeping members safe, the role of social media in open parliament and the power of television to influence democracy.

They are expected to issue a declaration in which they pledge to work proactively towards ensuring the safety of elected politicians and encouraging social media platforms to prevent trolling.