Social media platforms will be required to proactively remove animal torture content on their sites under an amendment to the Online Safety Bill tabled by the Government.

The update to the proposed online safety laws – which are currently moving through Parliament – would require platforms to put systems and processes in place to tackle content that encourages or facilitates animal torture.

The amendment would see such content classified as a priority offence in the Bill – alongside content like child sexual abuse, threats to kill and revenge pornography – which firms are required to remove or face fines of up to £18 million or 10% of their global annual revenue.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “This kind of activity is deeply disturbing and not something an animal-friendly nation like the UK should ever tolerate.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan
Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan commended the changes (PA)

“Social media sites must not be used as platforms to promote the sadistic and harrowing actions of some deeply depraved internet users, and today we’re taking steps to make sure it is swiftly removed so both animals and users can be protected.

“The Online Safety Bill will make the UK the safest place in the world to be a child online, and it will now stop the proliferation of animal abuse too.”

The amendment is being tabled ahead of the House of Commons considering amendments made by the House of Lords next week.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and the UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards worldwide.

“Animal abuse is abhorrent and should not be circulating online, so these new rules will ensure social media platforms act swiftly to remove this content.”