Loving our neighbours online

Should we remove anonymity from persons who post racist and grossly offensive material online?

On Tuesday 23 March, Bishop Steven asked a question in the House of Lords to Baroness Barran (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), urging the government consider implementing a Code of Practice for both Hate Crime and wider legal harms.

My Lords, the requirement to love our neighbours as ourselves makes practical demands of our online behaviour: not only what is posted, but also what is endorsed, what is given the oxygen of repetition, what is tolerated.

The digital common good is threatened from both sides – by those who post racist and offensive material, and by some social media sites which craft algorithms to curate, propagate and perpetuate, in order to maximise financial income.

Will the government give urgent consideration to implementing a Code of Practice for both hate crime and wider legal harms; perhaps along the lines of the model code that Carnegie UK and a number of other civil society organisations, including my own office, have recently co-drafted.

Watch Bishop Steven’s question and the full response below and follow him on Facebook.