UK Prime Minister calls for the right for teens to delete the past

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a policy that would force social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to give young people an easy way to delete their past posts. 

The announcement was made in the lead up to the snap June 8 election. 

Under the policy, a re-elected Conservative government would require major social media platforms to give users the entitlement to delete all of their updates posted before they turned 18. 

The policy would also require the social media platforms to take down "inappropriate, bullying, harmful or illegal content" that is flagged to them by users.

Ms May said the policy was in response to concerns people's careers were being damaged by old comments made years earlier.

“The internet has brought a wealth of opportunity but also significant new risks which have evolved faster than society’s response to them," the Prime Minister said.

“We want social media companies to do more to help redress the balance and will take action to make sure they do.

“These measures will help make Britain the best place in the world to start and run a digital business, and the safest place in the world for people to be online.”

Social Media platforms that fail to provide these services or take action will face fines of millions of pounds. Even if a company is based overseas they will be obliged to comply with the laws if they operate in the United Kingdom. 

While most social media networks have yet to comment on the policy, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has reportedly said early conversations with the companies showed they were willing to work with the government on introducing more protection for users. 

Mashable has reported when Twitter was approached for comment, it responded with quotes from the deputy CEO of techUK stating that "new legislation must always be carefully thought through, and we urge all political parties to avoid broad brush policy solutions to the complex challenges of the digital age."

Talk about the Conservatives policy currently focuses on a one-click approach to deleting old content, but there is little detail about how this could be achieved or how social media companies will deal with content shared by other users. 

Of course, any Facebook or Twitter user can already delete past posts individually or by shutting down their account and starting again. What is more difficult is removing content tagged or shared by other people. 


Read More: Eight tips to hide your dirty laundry on Facebook


The policy is a significant shift from the Conservatives who have favoured a collaborative approach to tackling social media issues in the past. It also appears to be part of a larger worldwide trend of introducing more regulation and laws to govern the internet. 

Response to the proposed laws has been lukewarm in the comments sections, with many pointing to Right To Be Forgotten laws and existing tools which allow users to slowly delete content.