Twitter and Facebook could ban fake profiles to help prevent online abuse against women and girls, according to news reports.
The UK Crown Prosecution Service said people who use fake social media accounts to harass and abuse others should be prosecuted. And, for the first time, the new laws would apply, to some extent, to children as well as adults.
The initiative arose as social media has been increasingly seen as a means to attack users, and especially women, with little effort. As a result, Twitter will train prosecutors in England and Wales to stop online harm against women.
“Social media is increasingly being used as a tool against women and I think it is really positive that Twitter is going to be training our lawyers in the months ahead,” Chief Crown Prosecutor Jenny Hopkins told the Guardian.
Posting explicit pictures of an ex as revenge and monitoring people using GPS will be punished under the new regulations, for instance.
Also, owning multiple fake Facebook profiles could become a criminal offense, according to Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions.
“Worryingly, we have seen an increase in the use of cyber-enabled crime in cases related to violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse,” she said. “Offenders can mistakenly think that, by using false online profiles and creating websites under a false name, their offences are untraceable. Thankfully, this is not the case and an online footprint will be left by the offender.”
A 2015 UN report states that 18% of women in the EU, about 32 million women, have experienced a form of cyber-violence since they were 15.