Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte says it’s not feasible for the government to continue to ignore the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission for the establishment of a Digital Safety Commissioner in light of this week’s undercover expose of practices at Facebook.

The Channel 4 programme highlighted the social media giant’s failure, and in some cases refusal, to remove dangerous, abusive and inappropriate content from the platform.

Deputy Rabbitte commented, “The practices exposed in the Dispatches programme were deeply worrying.  Despite claiming that its policies are designed to remove abusive and dangerous content, this undercover probe exposed the fact that the reality is very different and is far from robust.

“There appears to be no policy to protect children or vulnerable adults from viewing this disturbing content.  A warning ahead of the video simply does not go far enough.

“Fianna Fáil has been warning about the dangers of online content for some time.  While in government we established the Office for Internet Safety and the Internet Content Advisory Council, however successive Fine Gael governments have starved these agencies of sufficient funding, making it difficult for them to perform their core functions.

“My colleague James Lawless also introduced important legislation to regulate online and social media advertising, but we are still waiting on the government to fully support it.

“The most pressing issue in my mind is the establishment of a Digital Safety Commissioner to deal with issues relating to online bullying and defamation, and to promote safe online behaviour.  It is no longer acceptable to allow internet giants to “regulate” themselves, in pursuit of profit. We need to put the public’s interest first and the government cannot continue to put this essential office on the backburner.”

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