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Social media companies must be compelled to engage with parents on immediate removal of harmful content – Carroll MacNeill

6th September 2022 - Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, TD

Social media companies must be available, engage and be compelled to respond to parents who want harmful content removed immediately from their pages on behalf of their children, according to Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill.

Deputy Carroll MacNeill said: “A report from CyberSafe Kids published today details shocking examples of parents trying to get content taken down, only to be met with unresponsiveness by social media companies.

“Parents need to be able to stop harmful content before it takes hold and is disseminated online – there are many vigilant parents, but they should not be on their own when things go wrong.

“From my own experience as a public representative, the response from social media companies when I raise a complaint has been poor.

“Adults are better equipped to take personal attacks that can come at any hour of the day or night, but how is a child supposed to process that?

“Children need real protection from harmful content and from online bullying. There must be a 24/48 hour take down window when a parent raises a concern on behalf of their child.

“We have seen international models for this that work – in Australia they began with a child only model first before rolling it out to adults.

“Australia has been at the forefront of developing a legislative and policy framework for better online safety and putting an onus on social media platforms to prevent users from being exposed to or harmed by harmful content.

“When a complaint is made in accordance with their legislation, an eSafety Commissioner may give the social media service a removal notice requiring them to take all reasonable steps to remove the offensive material, and to do so within 24 hours.

“Social media can be a force for good, but when it becomes invasive and harmful to people’s lives, it ceases to be in the public interest to let it grow unfettered and to let children’s lives be destroyed by the bullying of the school yard invade their bedroom.

“This model must be replicated in Ireland, as social media harassment of children must be stopped quickly before it takes over children’s lives.

“An independent complaints mechanism is also essential and the speed with which social media companies respond to problems needs to be hugely expedited – for all but particularly for children.”

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