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Higgins calls for greater balance between user mental health and privacy rights on Facebook

25th February 2021 - Emer Higgins, TD

User mental health must be held in equal esteem as data protection on social media platforms like Facebook, a Fine Gael TD has said.


Deputy Emer Higgins’ comments come after Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner prevented Facebook from introducing a new feature which would see the social platform contact health authorities if evidence of self-injury or suicidal ideation was detected on a user’s accounts.


The data regulator raised concerns over the new feature’s implications on data privacy.


Deputy Higgins, party spokesperson on social media, said that while people’s right to privacy must be upheld at all times, help and intervention must also be prioritised for those who need it.


“I completely support people’s right to privacy, but where there are protection issues, especially child protection issues, I feel they should be prioritised.


“We know that intervention is crucial when it comes to mental health difficulties and preventing suicide and this feature has the potential to be life-saving.


“So much of our lives are lived online, particularly for young people, and social media platforms can play an important role in spotting concerning trends among users and highlighting the need for help and intervention.


“Facebook should be commended for their work on this and it is my hope that we can find a way to respect data-privacy while getting people the help that they deserve,” Deputy Higgins concluded.



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