Facebook should be told to leave Ireland if it won’t control content

Government needs to take a tougher stance with the social media giant after revelations on Channel 4 programme, writes Dr Mary Aiken

Last week we heard about yet another Facebook fiasco. A Channel 4 undercover investigation revealed that Facebook moderators were instructed not to remove violent, abusive, racist, extremist or graphic content – even when it violated guidelines.

This revelation may come as yet another shock, but those of us who work frontline in this area know exactly what sort of extreme content is readily available online, and this is precisely why Data Scientist Professor Barry O’Sullivan and I campaigned for almost two years to stop the Government lowering the Irish Digital Age of Consent to 13. Our campaign led to an extraordinary coalition of opposition parties and Independent TDs and culminated in a Dail vote which defeated the Government.

I am proud to say that a mixture of expert opinion, parent power, common sense and good old-fashioned democracy prevailed. The Irish Digital Age of Consent is now 16, affording our children and young people greater protection from the online ‘attention merchants’ that want to profile, target and monetise them. We should never outsource child development and parenting to social technology companies. We should not allow these companies to dictate the moral and ethical compass of our society, and, more importantly, of our children.

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