SOCIAL media bosses face jail if they fail to cooperate with online safety regulators, ministers will announce within weeks.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and other tech chiefs will be prosecuted if they do not clean up their act under a new law.
The move is a huge shift in policy by the Government, which had up until now defied calls to make them criminally liable for their sites.
But new Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is toughening up measures amid concerns YouTube and Facebook are failing to take down harmful content.
Ministers are bringing in a new Online Safety Bill.
It creates a new legal duty of care on tech giants to be enforced by Ofcom.
The Government has already announced companies who flout it would be hit by fines which could stretch into the billions of pounds
But they kept the threat of criminal prosecution in reserve — and said they would bring in the measure only if tech bosses woefully failed to stick to the new code.
In a radical shift, ministers have now decided to impose it.
It means Silicon Valley bosses could be prosecuted and even jailed if their company refuses to cooperate with Ofcom.
One Whitehall insider told HOAR: “It had been the sword of Damocles hanging over them. But now it will come into force.”
It has been dubbed the Nick Clegg law named after the former deputy PM now working for Facebook.