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Press Council calls for 'regulation' of social media after man incorrectly identified as sex offender

The council has released a statement discussing the ‘appalling treatment’ of the man in question by locals in Monasterevin, Co Kildare.

General Stock - Twitter Source: Andrew Matthews

IRELAND’S PRESS COUNCIL has called for the regulation of social media postings after an innocent man was identified as a sex offender in Co Kildare.

Dublin man David Murray was falsely identified as convicted child abuser Anthony Luckwill on the Facebook page of Kildare online-only news website KildareNow late last month.

The posting led to Murray being confronted by a group of adults on the streets of Monasterevin (where he had been looking for somewhere to live), before he was forced to call the gardaí.

In the aftermath of the incident, Murray told TheJournal.ie that he had only slept for six hours in three days. He added that he would never again feel safe on the streets of the town.

In a statement released today, the Press Council of Ireland said that Murray had been subjected to “appalling treatment”. Murray had reportedly decided not to take a defamation action against KildareNow it said, but had “sought redress through the Office of the Press Ombudsman”.

Voluntary

It noted that membership of the council is voluntary, and that KildareNow is not currently a member, and that as such it cannot “use its complaints handling processes in response to Mr Murray’s complaint”.

“This leaves him with no regulatory body to turn to in seeking redress,” it said.

It said that Murray had approached the website in the aftermath of the incident asking it to take down his photo, and that it had taken “seven hours to publish a retraction”.

“The Press Council and the Press Ombudsman have called for the introduction of a regulatory system for social media such as Facebook,” the statement continues.

Under the current arrangements the vast majority of the press is subject to independent regulation and broadcasting is subject to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
Social media are, however, subject to no regulation, independent or otherwise.  They should be required to develop an independent regulatory body that would offer a fair means of redress for people who believe that information about themselves posted on social media is inaccurate or misleading.
If social media cannot or will not put in place such structures they should be made subject to national and/or international governmental oversight.

The Press Council is a non governmental body that is, in its own words, “responsible for the oversight of the professional principles embodied in…  (its) Code of Practice, and with upholding the freedom of the press”.

Read: Remains from two sites in Wicklow Mountains believed to be of the same person

Read: ‘I got us into this mess, I’ll get us out’: Theresa May tries to unify her new Cabinet

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