On Tuesday 23rd January, the APPG held a roundtable under the Chatham House rule looking at the link between social media and knife crime.
In the context of youth violence, there is evidence that social media is increasingly being used to provoke offline violence. Material specifically intended to denigrate and taunt rival groups can be shared more widely and more permanently – escalating reprisals and increasing violence as young people seek to protect their status and reputation.
However, the debate also explores major questions around freedom of expression, and how we distinguish material which reflects the reality of young people’s lives from that which promotes and provokes violence. This is particularly true for UK Drill, a genre of rap music which has become heavily popularised in London through social media (primarily YouTube) via music videos and live studio sessions.
Representatives from the world’s largest social media companies joined APPG members, internet safety charities, regulators, youth workers, journalists and young people themselves in Parliament on Tuesday. The discussion focused on three areas:
- The impact of social media on knife crime;
- Preventing and removing violent and dangerous content
- Youth-focused solutions
Several policy recommendations aimed at striking a balance between respecting young peoples’ freedom to expression while also safeguarding young people better online. These will be turned into a short policy document by the APPG, with thanks to the Members and guests who were involved in the meeting.