The Attorney General has increase the pressure on Twitter and Facebook to remove Islamophobic and racist comments from their websites.
Jeremy Wright said he wanted to meet social media companies to urge them to take down bigoted messages – and warn they could be prosecuted if they refused.
His intervention came after The Independent disclosed last week that social media companies were refusing to take down hundreds of inflammatory postings from their sites.
The number of postings, some of which accuse Muslims of being rapists, paedophiles and comparable to cancer, has increased significantly in recent months.
Mr Wright signalled his dismay over the proliferation of racist messages and said he was “very happy” to meet the companies to discuss steps to tackle them.
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, asked him: “Do you share my concern about the increase in Islamophobia and racism on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and the inability of site owners to take the postings down? Will you have a meeting with the companies concerned to urge them to take down these postings, rather than face prosecution?”
Mr Wright responded: “Yes, I do share that concern, and I’m very happy to meet with social media providers and others to discuss what more we can do.
“As you have said – and as I’m sure the House in general agrees – it’s important that everyone understands that social media is not a space where one can act with impunity and that the social media providers, and all those who use social media, need to understand clearly that criminal law applies here.”