On 16th July 2020 Lord Holmes of Richmond asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of digital platforms on the functioning of democracy.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, asked a follow-up question:
The Archbishop of Canterbury [V]: My Lords, I declare an interest in that certain funds across the Church of England and the Anglican Communion hold shares in social media companies, and vast numbers of churches and Anglicans, including me, use platforms for the promotion of the Church’s work. The Minister will be aware that, although social media has immense power for good, some social media platforms are used to incite hatred, stirring up social disruption and even extreme violence in some parts of the world, as I have recently heard from bishops in the DRC. What steps are Her Majesty’s Government looking at to motivate and encourage responsibility to be taken by such platforms to prevent their use in everything from hate speech to genocide?
Baroness Barran: The most reverend Primate captures the essence of both the potential benefits and the potential risks of social media platforms—a problem that arises particularly in countries where they represent almost the exclusive source of news. We will set out in great detail what we will do in relation to all those elements in our response to the consultation and then in the upcoming legislation. However, we anticipate that the international aspects will require intensive international collaboration to be effective.