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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 17 December, 2018
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Calls for fines and gardaí after undercover report about Facebook moderation in Dublin

Channel 4′s Dispatches programme sent a reporter to record training.

Posted by on Monday, 17 December 2018

FIANNA FÁIL’S TIMMY Dooley has said that the “only way” to ensure that Facebook removes offensive material from the website is by fining them for not doing so.

The party’s communications spokesperson said he believes an Irish digital safety commissioner should have the power to sanction and fine Facebook if it ignored policies put in place here.

Dooley was responding to a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary that aired last night in which a reporter was sent to work as a content moderator for Facebook in Dublin. The programme claimed thousands of reported posts remained unmoderated and on the site, including posts relating to suicide threats and self-harm.

In a blog post on Facebook, the company acknowledged that some of the contents of the programme fell short of “the high standards we expect”.

The fact that recordings were taken in Ireland has prompted politicians to say that more must be done in Ireland to police content on multinational websites based here.

PastedImage-88154 Source: Twitter/AlanFarrell

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Dooley said that sanctions would only apply to content that was reported to Facebook and not removed.

It’s about establishing codes of practice for the digital platforms such as Facebook and others, and then providing that digital commissioner with the powers to sanction Facebook, so when there’s a request to remove offensive material and when Facebook behind the scenes adjudges that their interest, that it’s in their financial interest to keep it up there, and if it flies in the face of national policies established by a digital safety commissioner, that they would be sanctioned and fined.

“It seems to me, because their business model is about generating very significant profits through advertising around this kind of content, that the only way that you’re going to bring Facebook to heel here is to put in place appropriate sanctions and appropriate fines,” he added.

In the Dispatches programme, one video featured a video a man punching and stamping on a toddler.

The video was used during the undercover reporter’s training as an example of something that would only be removed from the site if it was posted with a celebratory caption.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke programme, Tanya Ward of the Children’s Rights Alliance said that such videos should be brought to the attention of gardaí, even if such incidents happened abroad.

“In this particular case I do think we need to look at whether there are sufficient safeguards to make sure that reports are being made available both to gardaí and to Túsla,” she said.

Because the gardaí themselves actually have powers to investigate crimes and offences that may have been committed against children in other countries and they have protocols in place, particularly at European level, for transferring information like this.

In the Dispatches programme, Facebook said it does escalate these issues and contact law enforcement.

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Rónán Duffy

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