A TikTok star has launched an Ofcom-backed campaign called ‘Only Nans’ to encourage youngsters to report harmful content that would offend their grandmothers.
Lewis Leigh gained millions of followers after posting sweet footage of him dancing with his elderly grandmother, Phyllis, on the popular video sharing site.
He has now launched the campaign urging people to report content that would offend their grans because ‘nans are the best judges out there’.
Lewis became popular on the app during lockdown, and wanted to launch the campaign with Ofcom after scrolling through some questionable content.
He said: ‘Nans always give the best advice. So next time you’re scrolling through your phone and come across something you’re not quite sure about, ask yourself, “What would my nan think?”
‘If it’s a “no” from nan then perhaps think about reporting it.’
Ofcom, the communications regulator, found that 67 per cent of teenagers and young adults, aged 13-24, had encountered at least one potentially harmful piece of content online.
Lewis has launched the campaign with Ofcom and his grandmother Phyllis, pictured, after becoming populatr on TikTok during the pandemic. He is urging other young people to report any online content that they think could potentially be harmful
But the research also found that only 17 per cent went on to report it, as more than 20 per cent said they don’t think reporting something would make a difference.
They also found that 12 per cent of those involved in the survey did not know what to do when they saw harmful content, or who to inform about it.
The most common content that young people came across were misinformation, scams and offensive language.
His campaign comes as the Online Safety Bill is making its way through parliament, and will give Ofcom powers to fine social media platforms if they fail in a duty of care.
Ofcom will be able to hand out fines of up to £18million, or ten per cent of the companies qualifying revenue.
As well as forcing social media companies to delete illegal content, such as child abuse imagery, they will also have to try to get rid of some ‘hate crime offenses’, even though they would be allowed in the real world because of freedom of expression protections.
News publishers have campaigned for a complete exemption from the Online Safety Bill since its white paper launch three years ago.
They are concerned the latest version of the Bill appears not to address a recommendation from MPs for an amendment to protect Press freedom.
The joint parliamentary committee which scrutinised the Bill said it should include a ban on tech companies blocking news content unless it is in breach of criminal law.
Social media bosses could be jailed if they fail to cooperate with regulators on protecting the vulnerable online, under updated legislation.
Ofcom research has revealed that only 17 per cent of those who had seen harmful content went on to report it, as more than 20 per cent said they don’t think reporting something would make a difference
The campaign comes after Molly Russell, pictured, took her own life in 2017 after viewing thousands of posts about suicide and self-harm on Instagram. The 14-year-old’s dad Ian has been campaigning for tighter laws around online safety since his death
An earlier version of the Online Safety Bill, published last year, said tech firms could be fined huge amounts – potentially running into billions of pounds – if they failed to abide by a duty of care.
Ministers had avoided making bosses personally responsible for failing company, but now senior managers will face prosecution for breaking the duty of care.
The legislation is dubbed the Nick Clegg law, as the former deputy prime minister is now vice president for global affairs and communications at Facebook.
Children’s charities and worried families have long campaigned for social media firms to be prosecuted if they fail to crack down on self-harm material.
It comes after the father of a teenage girl took her life after viewing thousands of posts online about suicide and self-harm.
Molly Russell, 14, took her own life in 2017 after scrolling through the graphic images on Instagram, with her dad Ian Russell telling MP’s that he had ‘frustratingly limited success’ when asking firms to take down content.
The online safety campaigner said tech companies only seemed to take action when ‘news stories break’ or when the Government changes regulations.
Mr Russell said the ‘corporate culture’ at the platforms must change so they respond to harmful content in a ‘proactive’ rather than a ‘reactive’ manner.
Ian Russell told MPs that online safety campaigners had ‘frustratingly limited success’ when asking firms to take down harmful content. He is calling for social media giants to be more ‘proactive’ in removing posts from their sites rather than being ‘reactive’ in their approach
Giving evidence to MPs on the Draft Online Safety Bill Joint Committee last year, he said: ‘It is our experience that there is frustratingly limited success when removed harmful content is requested to be by the platforms, particularly in terms of self-harm and suicidal content and this is particularly stressful for families and friends who are bereaved by suicide.
‘It seems only when either news stories break in a particularly public way or when perhaps regulations change… so it has become our view, and increasingly so, that the corporate culture at these platforms needs to change.
‘They need to be proactive rather than reactive and they after all have the resources and the skills to do this.
‘But it is so often done as an afterthought and they should live up to their words about taking online safety seriously and wanting to make their platforms safer.’
TikTok’s latest transparency report revealed that 85.8 million pieces of content were removed in the last three months of 2021.
Of those 5 per cent of them were removed as a result of user reports, while Instagram reported 43.8 million content removals.
Jo Hemmings, a behavioral psychologist, told The Times that young people not reporting potentially harmful content ‘risks a potentially serious issue going unchallenged’.
She added: ‘People react very differently when they see something harmful in real life — reporting it to the police or asking for help from a friend, parent or guardian — but often take very little action when they see the same thing in the virtual world .