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Social Media Cannot Regulate Itself Any Longer – Naughton

1st August 2018 - Hildegarde Naughton TD

Social Media cannot regulate itself any longer, a Fine Gael TD. Hildegarde Naughton has said.


Deputy Naughton, who is Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, was speaking following the appearance of Facebook representatives before the committee after a recent Channel 4 Dispatches expose.


“Today, my Committee had a worthwhile interaction with Facebook representatives, in light of the recent Channel 4 “Dispatches” programme, where they again apologised for their shortcomings. They also outlined a series of measures they are taking to ensure no repeat of the objectionable/illegal/graphic online content that was clearly illustrated by the programme.


“However, it is the view of the committee that the time for apologies and remedial action is past. Social media platforms have shown themselves incapable of self-regulation. If they won’t regulate themselves, we must do it for them,” she said.


“I therefore proposed, and the Committee agreed, to take the following action:


  1. We are prioritising the scrutiny of Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire’s Private Member’s Bill, the ‘Digital Safety Commissioner Bill 2017’. That will take place as soon as it can be arranged when we return in September.
  2. I am writing to the Taoiseach and Minister Naughten, on behalf of the Committee, indicating the need, in principle, for such legislation, notwithstanding whatever changes might be warranted after detailed scrutiny by the Committee.
  3. I am writing, on behalf of the Committee, to the relevant Parliamentary Committees of all other EU Member States asking them to consider this issue, both nationally and in terms of the need for EU Regulation.
  4. I am seeking a meeting with the European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Ivanova Gabriel, to discuss the need for European Regulation in this area.
  5. I am writing to all Irish members of the European Parliament asking them to support the efforts of the Committee in this area.
  6. Finally, I am seeking a meeting with the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, in order to progress this issue at a European level.


“While the involvement of the EU is vital to the long term success of appropriate platform moderation, we must also act unilaterally. We cannot wait for others to act.


“As Facebook’s European Headquarters is based in Ireland, we must lead the way.  The press are regulated. Television and radio is regulated. It is the view of the committee that the time for self-regulation by social media platforms is over.


“The committee is conscious of the need to ensure continuing freedom of expression and will act with all due caution. However, the committee is absolutely certain of need to ensure that images of child abuse and other such illegal/graphic activity can no longer be shared on Facebook or other social media platforms.


“No organisation or platform should be above the law. No organisation or platform has the right to decide how it will conduct itself, no matter the adverse consequences for its users.

It is acknowledged that technology has utterly changed the communications landscape throughout the world.


“The vast majority of that is positive. However, no one can say that the sharing of images of a three year old child being severely beaten by an adult is something we should tolerate in the name of progress.


“We are not planning to turn back the clock or ban social media. What we are proposing is to regulate to ensure that such platforms are safe places for its users,” Deputy Naughton said.

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