The rules will be legally binding for companies to follow. Alamy
Online Safety

Irish media regulator asks public for their input on new online safety rules for social media

The Online Safety Code is part of a suite of measures to prevent and remove harmful content posted online.

NEW, LEGALLY BINDING rules for social media platforms to adhere to are being put to the public for their consultation by the Irish media regulator today.

Coimisúin na Meán, the media commission, are asking the public for their view on the Online Safety Code – which will aim to protect users of social media from harmful content.

This code will work as a larger framework, that will also include the EU Digital Services Act and the EU Terrorist Content Online Regulation, and will by enforced in Ireland by Coimisiún na Meán from next year.

Coming into enforcement in February, the EU Digital Services Act is introducing the largest number of regulations on social media to date.

With many of the companies headquartered in Ireland, it will be up to the new media regulator to enforce the new rules and laws.

If these laws aren’t followed, the commission has the power to fine the companies, €20 million or up to 6% of their national turnover.

The draft code sets out measures that video-sharing platforms will be obliged to implement, blocking content that could be seen as harmful such as cyberbullying or online content that encourages an eating disorder or encourages self-harm or suicide.

The measures also introduce age verification requirement, so that children are not exposed to inappropriate content, such as pornography.

Platforms will have to prevent the uploading or sharing of a range of illegal content, including incitement to hatred or violence. They will also have to provide media literacy tools for users, which can help people recognise disinformation and misinformation.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme, the online safety commissioner Niamh Hodnett said the commission will look to enforce these rules where possible.

Hodnett said platforms that hateful or violent content is being ‘amplified’ on will be tackled in the code in order to remove hate speech or misinformation.

As of now, the commission contacts these companies on an informal basis as the codes and regulations – and the commission itself – is yet to be fully established.

This process, covered by The Journal in October, engages with Irish representatives of social media companies and asks them to tackle the issues internally. However, from as early as February 2024, the codes and regulations will be fully legally enforceable.

Hodnett said in a statement that an Coimisúin is “determined” to use “its full suite of powers” to maintain the safety of people on online platforms.

She added: “Once the consultation closes, we will move to finalise Ireland’s first online safety code. We will be seeking approval from the European Commission to implement the code. 

“This effective regulation of video-sharing platforms will significantly reduce the potential harms that these services can cause to children and young people.”