LONDON (Reuters) – Britain's Health Minister Jeremy Hunt threatened to impose new regulations on social media companies when they stop doing to protect young people using their services.
Hunt said the groups would "turn a blind eye" social media had the well-being of children – an allegation known as Facebook ( FB.O ) and others world famous about their impact and their influence stands.
Google's operations in the UK and Facebook have stated that they are committed to protecting children and working on new features to help them. There were no immediate comments from Twitter, Snapchat and other companies.
Hunt did not say what kind of regulations the government might impose, but gave companies a deadline by the end of April to develop measures against cyber bullying and control the time adolescents spend online.
"I'm concerned that your businesses seem to be satisfied with a situation where thousands of users are violating their own terms and conditions in the minimum age," Hunt said in a letter addressed to technology companies.
"I fear that you will collectively turn a blind eye when an entire generation of children is prematurely exposed to the harmful emotional side effects of social media."
Hunt said in an article in the Sunday Times that this had been the case There were a few welcome steps to improve the online protection of children, but the overall response was "extremely limited" and a voluntary approach maybe not enough.
"An industry with some of the brightest minds and biggest budgets could have met this challenge," he added.
Hunt's comments came in parallel with the announcement of a government review of the impact of websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat on children's mental health.
In recent years, the United Kingdom has dealt on several fronts with Internet companies on tax payments, countering the spread of counterfeit news and extremist material, and the use of personal data.
"We welcome the continuing commitment of the Minister of Health to this important issue and share his ambition to create a secure and supportive environment for young people on the Internet," said Karim Palant, Facebook's British public policy manager.
Katie O & # 39; Donovan, Public Policy Manager at Google UK, said the company has introduced features to help parents set screen time limits and introduced an online safety course for children.
"Together with all parents, we understand the challenge of helping children to use the Internet in a safe and responsible manner," she added.
Reporting by William James; Arrangement by Andrew Heavens