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Ministers call on social media firms to curb online abuse of candidates

By Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor
Page 1: 12:13

Ministers are urging social media companies to ensure candidates for Parliament are protected from online threats and abuse during the General Election campaign.

The Cabinet, meeting for the final time before polling on December 12, agreed the importance of adequate safeguards and advice for those contesting the election.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said they would be writing to social media firms asking them to establish a "one-stop shop" setting out what constitutes unacceptable abuse and how to report it.

"We want social media companies to have an open and regular dialogue with the security, policing and electoral authorities throughout the campaign," the spokesman said.

"Cabinet agreed that people who intimidate public figures should face the consequences of their actions.

"The freedom to hold respectful, vibrant and robust debate cannot be an excuse to cause harm, spread hatred or impose views upon others.

"Cabinet was clear that a line is crossed when disagreement mutates into intimidation, violence or abuse."

The move follows widespread concern about rising levels of abuse and threats aimed at MPs, particularly in the light of the debate around Brexit.

The spokesman said security advice would be issued to all candidates standing in the election through returning officers.

At the same time, they are looking to the social media companies to work with officials and political parties to ensure their safety and reporting guidance reached "the widest possible audience of candidates and electoral staff as soon as possible".

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