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Social media platforms urged to step up mental health protection

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Two thirds of social media users want better mental health protection, a study suggests.

Two thirds of UK adults with a social media account believe social media companies have a duty to protect the mental health of people who use their platforms, according to new research.

4,000 people were surveyed by wellbeing company Soul Analyse and OnePoll, focusing on social media use during the pandemic.

When asked which steps social media companies could take, over half (56 per cent) of those calling for mental health protection felt platforms should suggest tips on how to access helplines underneath posts that might be triggering, or point towards relevant communities that can offer support.

Meanwhile, 64 per cent said sensitive posts should carry a trigger warning, while half wanted to be able to easily hide sensitive content.

Clear guidelines on how users should not interact with one another (53 per cent) also ranked highly.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) said they would like to see people who troll permanently banned.

Overall, the study found that 53 per cent of respondents feel social media platforms are not doing well when it comes to safeguarding the wellbeing of users, contrasted with only four per cent who feel they are doing very well.

Just over a third (36 per cent) said social media companies should look to the Government for guidelines on how to deal with potentially harmful content online.

Stephanie Dunleavy, founder of Soul Analyse, said: “Our research shows people have been turning to social media more frequently throughout the pandemic – 48 per cent say the time they spend browsing has increased since the first lockdown began in March 2020.

“Over two thirds (67 per cent) of these are now spending up to an hour more on social media per day and a further 18% are spending up to two hours extra.

“The majority of social media users clearly feel platforms must play their part in creating a healthy online environment. Social media companies could introduce a ‘conduct agreement’ box for people to tick each time they log on, which may help to deter trolls.”

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