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Elon Musk Alamy Stock Photo
behind closed doors

X tells private Oireachtas hearing it will abide by Irish hate speech laws

This is despite X’s owner Elon Musk last month pledging to fund any future legal challenges against Ireland’s proposed hate speech laws.


SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM X, formerly known as Twitter, has indicted before an Oireachtas Committee it will commit to abiding by the proposed new hate speech Bill in Ireland. 

This is despite X’s owner Elon Musk last month pledging to fund any future legal challenges against Ireland’s proposed hate speech laws.

Representatives of X appeared before the Oireachtas Media Committee today. However, the tech giant had said it would only appear before the committee if the meeting was held in private rather than in public session. 

It’s understood that during the meeting, X representatives committed to abiding by Ireland’s proposed hate speech laws. 

The proposed bill Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 is currently stalled in the Seanad, having already passed in the Dáil, after attracting criticism early last year.

The bill will, if it passes into law, introduce more up-to-date protections than those contained in existing legislation, such as gender identity and disability.

In a nutshell, the new laws seek to strengthen the legal recognition of hatred in Ireland’s criminal justice system, and hate could become an aggravating factor during sentencing in criminal trials.

During today’s committee hearing, it’s understood that the topic of content moderation was also raised. 

X defended its response to the Dublin riots in November during today’s committee hearing. 

In its opening statement to the committee, the social media company said: “As soon as we became aware of the incident in Parnell Square, we conducted a proactive sweep of the platform to surface content in violation of our terms of service.

“As a result, we proactively took action on more than 1,230 pieces of content under our rules relating to the riots between 24-28 November.” 

Speaking to The Journal this evening, Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne said that while it was a “welcome engagement” with X today, he “doesn’t feel any more confident in X’s commitment to tackling disinformation and some of the worst forms of hate speech”. 

Byrne said that the “enormous scaled back content moderation and the increase level of vitriol evident on the platform … leads to a questioning as to whether is truly committed to addressing these online harms”. 

Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan has described the meeting with X today as “incredibly unhelpful”. 

He described the representatives to be “unresponsive” even when committee members shared some personal stories in terms of abuse they have received on the platform. 

Last month, Meta also appeared before the Media Committee in private after it said it would only appear if the meeting was not held in public session. 

That meeting centred around moderation policies the company applies to those in public life.