Communications and Digital Committee
Free for all? Freedom of expression in the digital age

1st Report of Session 2021-22 - published 22 July 2021 - HL Paper 54



Chapter 1: Introduction

Table 1: Average minutes per day spent by UK users on websites owned by these companies/publishers

Figure 1: Percentage of UK adults who have used social media or video sharing platforms, 2011–20

Box 1: Draft Online Safety Bill

Box 2: Theories of freedom of expression

Chapter 2: Regulating content

Moderation by platforms

Table 2: Prevalence of harm by age and gender (%)

Table 3: Prevalence of harm by age (%)

Table 4: Ofcom data on prevalence of harm (%)

Proposed safety duties

Illegal content

Box 3: Relevant criminal offences

Protecting children

Figure 2: Social media usage by age

Box 4: Protections for children in the draft Online Safety Bill

‘Legal but harmful’ content

Box 5: Facebook Oversight Board

Journalistic content

Censorship abroad

Chapter 3: Empowering users

Platform design

Encouraging civility


Figure 3: UK Digital Civility Index

Box 6: The draft Online Safety Bill and media literacy

Chapter 4: Promoting choice

Figure 4: Social media platforms’ reach in the UK, July 2015 to February 2020

Figure 5: Shares of supply by user time spent on social media, July 2015 to February 2020

Social media

Search engines

Draft Online Safety Bill

News organisations

Online advertising

Figure 6: Intermediation in the online advertising market

Mandatory bargaining

Figure 7: Publishers’ share of visibility of articles about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, 1 March to 11 March 2021

Figure 8: Publishers’ share of visibility of articles about Piers Morgan, 1 March to 11 March 2021

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Appendix 1: List of Members and declarations of interests

Appendix 2: List of witnesses

Appendix 3: Call for Evidence

Appendix 4: 10 principles for regulation

Appendix 5: Draft Online Safety Bill correspondence with Ministers

Appendix 6: Communications and Digital Committee engagement events

Evidence is published online at and available for inspection at the Parliamentary Archives (020 7219 3074).

Q in footnotes refers to a question in oral evidence.

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