On 3 February 2023, the second reading of the OFCOM (Duty regarding Prevention of Serious Self-harm and Suicide) Bill [HL] is scheduled to take place in the House of Lords. It is a private member’s bill introduced by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (Crossbench).

Social media platforms can be sources of learning, advice and support for children and young people. However, concern has been expressed about the use of these platforms as conduits for content promoting self-harm.

The bill would require Ofcom to establish a unit to advise the government on the extent of content on social media platforms which could be seen to encourage self-harm or suicide. Ofcom would also have to advise on the effectiveness of current regulations in addressing this content and make recommendations for any changes to the regulation of social media platforms to increase the effectiveness of self-harm and suicide prevention. The unit would also need to advise the government on the use of search engines to access this content.

This briefing was originally published on 10 August 2022. It has been updated to reflect changes to the Online Safety Bill during its passage in the House of Commons and a government commitment to further amend that bill in the House of Lords.

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