I SEE that assorted social media giants face hefty fines for failing to take down illegal content if new proposals make it into law.

It’s fair enough, I suppose.

Although no platform with millions - or perhaps billions - of users can reasonably be expected to be aware of everything done by every one of those users, it would be nice if they could get around to removing criminal stuff when alerted to it.

Mind you, it would also be nice if, before bringing in new rules and regulations, certain people in positions of influence were a bit more enthusiastic about enforcing some of the rules and regulations we already have.

For example, imagine some horrible little twerp with swastika underwear, an unfortunate dog called Adolf, a budgie that can whistle the Horst Wessel Song and a fondness for performing a certain type of salute which makes them look like someone’s nicked their yoyo.

Imagine they pop up on a main shopping street in a town or city, either on their own or with a bunch of friends who share their beliefs, their attitudes and the fact of almost certainly never having been kissed in spite of approaching middle age.

Imagine that they then start spouting a load of nonsense about how certain people should be demonised, reviled or physically harmed on account of their race, their creed or some other characteristic.

I’d also like you to imagine that nearby is a different kind of person with a message of their own.

This person believes in a deity, as any of us has a perfect right to, but they also feel the need to harangue strangers with their view that their deity is the only deity, and that their interpretation of that deity’s teachings is the only true one.

They loudly proclaim that anybody who disagrees with them over scripture, or who believes in another deity or no deity at all, or who falls into some other category of which they disapprove, is not only destined to spend eternity being prodded with big toasting forks by a host of demons, but should also be hunted down and persecuted until the Fiery Pit is ready for them.

Let’s imagine another person hanging about nearby.

This person is an immoral deviant who spends their time indecently propositioning any young person unfortunate enough to cross their path. Sometimes they wear a convincing disguise, so as to pretend that they are also a young person.

What do all of these people have in common?

Well the most obvious thing is that each of them is committing a thoroughly nasty criminal offence which leaves them liable to arrest and, if they are convicted and the judge is somewhat firmer than a marshmallow, the possibility of jail time.

Now, in our final feat of imagination, let us imagine that instead of committing their various acts of incitement, perversion and so on in front of shoppers, they do so online.

Does that make the actions any less criminal under existing laws regarding incitement, perversion and so on?

No, it does not, so perhaps - and maybe I’m going out on a limb here - if the criminal justice system was a bit more enthusiastic about tracking down online offenders and dealing with them effectively, there wouldn’t be so many online offenders to begin with.

Maybe we should give some of the statutes a bit of a tune-up to remove any ambiguity.

I suggest a little paragraph at the end, along the lines of: “PS: Being a horrible little crook who causes fear and harm online is every bit as bad as being one who does it in the physical world. Therefore any offender who has their lawyer claim otherwise should probably get a couple of years extra.”