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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 18 December, 2014

TD says social media bullying has contributed to deaths

“It is impossible to quantify how many deaths have been caused or contributed to in this country by the negative elements of social media,” said Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

Image: Bullying photo via Shutterstock

A GOVERNMENT TD has called for all political parties to work together to tackle bullying on social media networks.

Mary Mitchell O’Connor (FG) said the “destructive potential of social media” needs to be addressed in order to solve the “devastating impact” cyber bullying is having on young people.

“It is impossible to quantify how many deaths have been caused or contributed to in this country by the negative elements of social media,” the Dún Laoghaire TD said in a statement this evening.

The unconstrained venom being directed at individuals on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube is undoubtedly doing untold damage.

She cited a recent YouTube video showing a young woman having an argument in a fast-food restaurant with young men who video the exchange as an example of the type of abuse that people are subjected to online. The video has been removed by YouTube but has resurfaced on other sites. Mitchell O’Connor said such teenage mistakes should not be immortalised online:

It’s too easy to take a critical view of the behaviour shown in the video. Most adults recognise that they did things in their teenage years that they’d never do again.
The difference, of course is in the past, every teenage mistake was not recorded on a smartphone. It’s shocking that now every mistake can be immortalised online.

The Oireachtas Committee on Communications is to hold a special meeting about social media and internet bullying later this month.

The Committee is expected to examine whether there is a need for new laws or regulation of internet comments.

The issue has been thrown into the spotlight in recent weeks. Donegal teenager Erin Gallagher who took her own life in October had posted messages on the internet citing bullies on the Ask.fm website who had attacked her before she died. In December, the brother of Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee spoke about the “faceless cowards” who had made comments about the TD on the internet which had greatly affected him before his death.

However Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has voiced her concerns that social media websites would be difficult to regulate if the government were to take action in order to prevent children from being bullied on the internet.

Read: Fitzgerald concerned about difficult of regulating cyberbullying sites >

Poll: Should social media users be able to comment anonymously? >

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