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Church of Scotland wants legislation on hate speech sooner for social media companies

by Cara Bentley

The Church of Scotland has joined nine other faith leaders to urge the Government to hurry up with its plan to make the UK the safest place to be online. 

The group, which includes Muslims, Jews and Quakers, says the public cannot rely on social media companies' reactive approach to abuse on their platforms. 

Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, minister of Dornoch Cathedral in the Highlands, said: "No-one should hide behind technology to make hurtful and hateful comments or to fuel people's prejudices. Words always have consequences and we would encourage people to use them to break down barriers, not build them.

"Christians believe that all people are made in God's image and that means we cannot see anyone mistreated or abused. Companies can't provide the means and take the profit without being held accountable."

The group argue that: "The prevalence of racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic and Anti-Hindu hate underlines how the social media companies continue to fall short. We cannot continue to rely on their piecemeal approach to online abuse.

"Today, we are calling on the UK Government to bring forward the Online Harms legislation as a matter of urgency. The UK Government promised to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online but their flagship Online Harm legislation continues to be delayed. This legislation must take us away from a reliance on a reactive approach where the rules are set by the companies. The social media companies must be held to account when they design their services in a way that encourages and facilitates hate."

It is signed by Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, Convener, Faith Impact Forum, The Church of Scotland; Akeela Ahmed MBE, Chair of the Independent Members at the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group; Qari Muhammad Asim MBE, Chair at Mosques Imams National Advisory Board. Senior Imam, Makkah Mosque; Iman Atta, Director of Tell MAMA and Faith Matters; Mark Gardner, Incoming Chief Executive at Community Security Trust; Rajnish Kashyap, General Secretary of the Hindu Council UK; Laura Marks OBE and Co-Founder of Nisa-Nashim; Paul Parker,Recording Clerk at Quakers in Britain; Sally Patterson, Executive Committee at the Alliance of Jewish Women and their Organisations

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