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What should you do if you’ve seen harmful content online?

Published: 17 October 2023
Last updated: 17 October 2023

The fast-developing crisis in Israel and Gaza has increased the risk that people might encounter harmful online content.

Steps you can take

We recognise many people have concerns – particularly children and parents – and are looking for support. There are things you can do if you come across harmful videos, images or other types of content online, which can help protect you, your family and others from this sort of content.

  • If you see harmful content online – not just relating to the conflict in Israel and Gaza – report it directly to the platform using the reporting tool for that platform. Don’t share it. This only helps to spread the content for others to see.
  • If you’re a parent or carer of younger children, consider using parental controls on any devices that children use to access online content, to reduce the risk of them encountering content that might be harmful.
  • Talk to children about what they do and see online, and remind them what they can do to stay safe. Encourage them to tell you if they’ve seen something online that they think is harmful – this will help you to report it to the platform. The resources below may be useful.

Further help

There is also a range of resources available from different organisations, which can help if you or your children have been affected by content you’ve seen.

Steps Ofcom is taking

We have already written to UK-established video-sharing platforms to remind them of the need to protect their users from such content.

Under our role as the regulator for UK-established VSPs, we cannot order platforms to remove or block content. But we are working closely with them to make sure they are carrying out their responsibility to have systems and processes in place, to anticipate and respond to the potential spread of harmful material.

If you have reported content to a UK-established video-sharing platform but are unhappy with the outcome or if you have specific concerns about the platforms’ safety measures – for example, any problems with reporting, flagging or age verification functions – you can then complain to Ofcom.

As we look ahead to the new Online Safety Bill receiving Royal Assent, we also expect future regulated platforms to similarly protect users from online harm.

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