Rishi Sunak has warned social media firms to ensure their platforms are “properly policed” after accusations were made against several BBC personalities in the wake of a scandal involving an unnamed presenter.
Tech sites have been awash with baseless allegations against a number of BBC staff in recent days, forcing some well-known names to publicly announce that they are not involved.
It comes as BBC executives held talks with the Metropolitan Police on Monday following allegations made against one of its household names that involved him giving £35,000 to a teenager in return for sexually explicit images.
Downing Street hit out at social media platforms for failing to crackdown on its users naming well-known figures, adding that anyone found to be spreading false rumours could face consequences.
“Both the users of social media sites and the sites themselves have responsibility,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
People “should understand their responsibilities, and putting baseless accusations online can carry consequences”.
The spokesman added: “We have been very clear with the sites themselves about their responsibilities on making sure these things are properly policed.”
Nicky Campbell, the BBC presenter who hosts a morning show on Radio 5 Live, used his slot to speak out about his “distressing weekend” after he was wrongfully accused as the BBC presenter in question.
He was among names, such as Gary Lineker and Rylan Clark, who were forced to speak out due to online speculation about the identity of the unnamed presenter.
Introducing his BBC show on Monday, Mr Campbell said: “Obviously thoughts with the alleged victim and family.
“So a bit of perspective here, worse things happen at sea as they say, but it was a distressing weekend, I can’t deny it, for me and others falsely named.
“Today I am having further conversations with the police in terms of malicious communication and with lawyers in terms of defamation.”
It comes after he suggested he had contacted police about being falsely mentioned online in connection with the story.
He tweeted a screenshot which featured the Metropolitan Police logo and the words: “Thank you for contacting the Metropolitan Police Service to report your crime.”
“I think it’s important to take a stand. There’s just too many of these people on social media. Thanks for your support friends,” he wrote.
A statement from the Metropolitan Police said: “On Saturday July 8, police received a report of malicious communication in relation to a post on social media.
“An investigation is under way and inquiries are ongoing. There have been no arrests.”