Social media corporations such as Facebook & Twitter could face fines of up to two million pounds for failing to stem harassment on their media should a recently introduced bill to congress becomes a law.
A Private Members Bill introduced by Labour MP Anna Turley suggests social media companies should have to police abuse on their platforms. The proposal includes a penalty of up to £2 million or 5 per cent of global turnover for failing to effectively filter threatening material.
Called the Malicious Communications (Social Media) Bill, it also proposes the creation of a register of social media companies that would be regulated by Ofcom.
If passed into law, the rules could require users have to opt out of having their content filtered. They could also mandate that material is automatically filtered for people under the age of 18. This would mean social networks would also have to verify the ages of users.
The proposals are in response to rising concerns over abuse online, affecting young people, minorities and high profile figures. It is supported by a number of female MPs who have been victims of abuse online, including Jess Phillips who last year received 600 rape threats.
The measures would be likely to affect platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. It is not clear if more private services such as WhatsApp would be included.
A study backed by MPs from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties last year found that in a three week period UK Twitter users targeted 6,500 women with 10,000 abusive and misogynistic tweets that included terms such as "slut" and "whore".
The proposed bill, which was first put to Parliament last year, is going through a second reading next month when, could become law if adopted by the Government.
Social media companies are coming under increasing pressure to mediate content on their platforms, from fake news to extremism to abuse.