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Facebook and Twitter: we can do more to protect disabled people

Facebook and Twitter have admitted they could do more to protect disabled people from online abuse, following criticism from the model and TV personality Katie Price, whose son Harvey has been victimised online.

The social media giants told MPs they could make the risks of abuse clearer to vulnerable people, and make the terms and conditions of using social media platforms easier for people with learning difficulties to understand.

Google, which runs the YouTube video platform, said it did not know whether it had consulted disabled people about making its terms and conditions clear to them. All three companies said they did not have any staff in the UK checking posts for abuse; their teams were based in Dublin.

The hearing in front of the Commons petitions committee came after Price launched a petition to make online bullying a criminal offence and to create a register of offenders.

Karim Palant, Facebook’s UK public policy manager, said disabled people were considered a “protected group” under its protocols, and that the company would have 20,000 people worldwide checking posts by the end of this year.

He said artificial intelligence software was able to pick up almost a third of the abuse, and Facebook took down 2.5m pieces of hate speech in the first quarter of this year.

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