A major UK broadband provider has taken action to block access to a website that promotes suicide. Sky Broadband and TalkTalk have added the forum to their list of blocked websites, ensuring that it is automatically barred for users who have activated their standard filters. The decision comes after a BBC investigation revealed that the forum has been connected to over 50 deaths in the UK. The site is accessible to anyone on the open web, including children, and bereaved relatives have appealed to internet service providers to block it.
Sky Broadband and TalkTalk have confirmed that they have blocked the forum through their safety filters. The providers’ actions follow criticism of British authorities for failing to act on official warnings about the website. The administrators of the forum have responded by claiming that UK digital regulator Ofcom has threatened to block the site under the newly passed Online Safety Bill. However, the site’s creators have shown little concern and continue to encourage users to lobby against what they call “draconian” legislation.
The decision to block access to the suicide-promoting forum has been met with relief and gratitude from the families of those who have lost loved ones to suicide. David Parfett, whose son died by suicide after finding instructions on the forum, expressed his relief and anger, stating that his aim has been to prevent others from being influenced to take their own lives. Another family, whose son left a note requesting the closure of the forum, also welcomed the move, seeing it as a step in the right direction. However, the creators of the site have shown little remorse or acceptance of responsibility.
In addition to the blocking measures taken by broadband providers, Spotify has disabled a “social login” button on the forum. This button allowed users to log in or register on the site using their Spotify credentials. Spotify has stated that the feature was enabled by a third-party developer without their knowledge, and they have since removed access for the site and disabled the button.
The UK government’s Online Safety Bill, which aims to make the internet safer, has recently become law, giving regulator Ofcom more authority to enforce compliance. Ofcom has stated that if services do not comply, it will have various enforcement powers to ensure accountability. The blocking of the suicide-promoting forum and the disabling of the social login button on Spotify are significant steps in addressing the issue of harmful online content and protecting vulnerable individuals.