I HAVE written previously about being a big fan of social media but I feel the providers should have been put in the spotlight much earlier.

No one can deny the benefits of these apps and websites. We are connected more than we have ever been, being able to reach people in seconds. In this job, that can only be a good thing, delivering breaking news quicker than ever before.

But it feels like only now those behind the social media platforms are being held to account. In 2018 we had the revelation that 87 million people’s information was improperly shared by Facebook. Earlier this year we had another platform, Instagram - one of the most popular among teenagers - effectively having to be pressured into banning all graphic self-harm images.

And recently Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known as Tommy Robinson, was finally banned for spreading his hate-filled bile on YouTube, having previously been banned from Twitter.

If these social network providers were start ups, who within a year had gained millions of users and were playing catch up, you perhaps could forgive mistakes. But the issue is these are multi-million pound companies, often more than 10 years old, who seem to have been in cruise control and took their eye off the ball.

So what needs to happen? Quite simply, they need to go back to basics, and be the simple tool to connect people once again.

Better safeguards are needed to protect children from certain content and, although always politically neutral and a place for freedom of speech - more should be done to stop abusive language and hate speech on these platforms.

We all have a part to play too in ensuring the next generation are not obsessed with these apps. Playing computers games is scoffed at by some yet those doing the mocking forget they have fallen for these platforms that are in a way the ultimate addictive game.

We also need to ensure youngsters - indeed all of us - always think twice about what we are posting and don’t get concerned about how many likes or comments they get. And of course it has to be remembered, people tend to post only the ‘good side’ of their day-to-day life. Social media also has a habit of framing things in binary choices, encouraging love/hate, quick responses when, in the real world, things are obviously not as simplistic.

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