The Taoiseach has blasted social media giants such as Facebook, who say they are not “accountable” for content posted on their platforms.
The criticism comes after a video of an eviction in Roscommon that turned violent surfaced on Facebook, garnering attention countrywide. In the aftermath of the video appearing, there were many hateful posts made on Facebook. Mr. Varadkar said that the fact that the company allows such posts on its platform is “just unacceptable”.
In response to questions about threats made to certain groups of people as a result of the video, Mr. Varadkar said social media companies are not expected to adhere to the same standards as newspaper publishers. “As I am concerned, social media posts like that are incitement of hatred and incitement of violence, and if you were a publisher of a newspaper or a broadcaster, you wouldn’t be allowed to promote that kind of stuff and you would be held accountable for it,” he said.
“Social media companies don’t seem to think that they are in any way accountable. I know they can’t control the posts that people put up on websites or on social networks but they can take them down.
“The fact that they don’t take down posts that incite hatred and incite violence is just unacceptable in my view”, he added.
A Facebook spokeswoman said that any posts or comments considered threatening were removed, but the users and pages remained on the site.
“The post and comments on the post, to which the Taoiseach is referring, were removed as they were in violation of our rules on what is allowed on Facebook.”
Facebook maintains that it “should be a place where people can engage in lively and critical debate around the issues that matter to them.”
“However, if debate or commentary tips into bullying, hate speech or credible threats of violence that breach our community standards, we will take action on those comments or individuals”, said the spokeswoman.
“We urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards, so we can investigate and take swift action.”