Sadiq Khan will call on social media giants to do more to tackle hate speech and fake news online in a major speech at a US festival.
The Mayor of London is the first UK politician to be offered a keynote speaking slot at SXSW in Texas, after which he will be joined by HuffPost editor Lydia Polgreen for a Q&A session.
Khan will use his platform on Monday to call for Facebook, Twitter and others to display a “stronger duty of care” towards tackling abuse and misinformation and will say cities across the globe must do more to harness the power of the tech revolution.
He will say politicians have been “sitting on their hands” while the landscape changes around them and that more must be done to make sure innovation benefits everyone in society, while preventing employment rights being by-passed and people feeling left behind by the shifting economy.
“There’s been a dereliction of duty on the part of politicians and policy-makers to ensure that the rapid growth in technology is utilised and steered in a direction that benefits us all,” he will tell crowds.
The Mayor will read out some of the abusive and illegal tweets he has received since taking office in 2016 and highlight growing evidence of overseas meddling in UK elections and the rise of ‘fake news’.
“All of this is dividing and polarising us, rather than uniting us. I know this all too well from personal experience,” he will say.
“We simply must do more to protect people online. Social media platforms already have a legal obligation to remove content that breaks local laws. But this is not always happening, or happening quickly enough.
“Facebook, Twitter and other platforms are finally starting to react to the criticisms and are developing technology to make sure the reporting process becomes quicker and more effective. I welcome this. But – with the skills and resources these companies have at their disposal – I believe it’s possible to go further and faster.
“What we need to see is a stronger duty of care so that social media platforms can live up to their promise to be places that connect, unify and democratise the sharing of information – and be places where everyone feels welcome and valued.”
The former shadow justice secretary will warn that if proper action is not taken, other government’s will follow steps taken by the German government, which has changed the law to allow social media companies to be hit with hefty fines if they are slow to remove hate speech, fake news and illegal material.
Uber was forced to make changes after it lost its licence in the capital in September for failing to adhere to Transport for London rules – and Khan will cite this as an example of the need to take action to make sure the sharing economy is fair.
“Ultimately – there must be greater responsibility taken by some tech companies for the impact they’re having on the world. And, crucially, no business or industry should ever consider itself above the local rules, or laws set by democratic processes,” he will add.
“In London, we’ve been clear with Uber and other companies – that everyone – no matter how big or small – must play by the rules. No exceptions.
“Our economies have always needed new regulations in place to meet the needs of workers and consumers when the environment changes. Evolving economies must mean evolving regulation.”
The Mayor will also tell how London is leading the way in terms of tackling hate crime and gender inequality.
Polgreen, who runs HuffPost in the US, will then spend time with Khan discussing some of the key themes from his speech, and take questions from the audience in the auditorium and online.