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Calls for tech tax to be imposed on social media firms

A so-called tech tax should be brought in to encourage social media giants to mitigate the negative impact of their sites on children, a think thank has said. Photo: HowToStartABlogOnline.net
By Lizzy Buchan, Press Association Political Staff

A so-called tech tax should be brought in to encourage social media giants to mitigate the negative impact of their sites on children, a think thank has said.

ResPublica said tech firms such as Facebook and Twitter should take more responsibility for their content amid growing evidence that online social networks can affect young people's well-being as well as offering crucial advice and support.

In a new report with the charity Barnados, the think tank urged ministers to team up with internet firms to offer mental health support to young people and to create a national fund based on voluntary contributions.

If this approach fails, the Government "should instead consider imposing a levy on the turnover of such companies", the report said.

A 1% levy on annual turnover of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn would have raised some £3.5 million in 2015, ResPublica said.

It comes after the Children's Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said parents should limit their children's usage of the internet "in the same way they would use sweets or junk food".

Duncan Sim, report author from ResPublica said: "Social media platforms should not be made scapegoats for the increasingly well-documented mental health difficulties faced by young people - indeed, as the report recognises, they can be a crucial source of advice and support for young people in distress.

"However, in light of growing evidence of the negative effects of social media on young people's well-being, we believe it is incumbent upon these companies to express their social responsibility by working with government on this vitally important issue."

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