Rabbitte to review laws on use of social media
on 07/03/2013 00:00:00
Mr Rabbitte, addressing an Oireachtas meeting dealing with social media and governance, said he had "difficulties" with the policies of some social networking companies in dealing with offensive material posted on their websites.
Independent senator Eamon Coughlan suggested that asking people for their passport number, credit card details, or getting them to "pay to post" could help tackle the issue of anonymity and cyberbullying.
Fine Gael senator Fidelma Healy Eames said the emergence of social media meant children were living in a parallel universe and parents and teachers could not keep up with it.
She referred to "frapeing" on Facebook - where a young person had their status opened by another who put an offensive or hurtful message on it.
"That message could be sexual and it goes out into the world as if they said it. This type of thing has to stop," she said.
"What about sexting - where persons are texting sexual images?"
Senator Healy Eames said the public would not be protected until adequate sanctions were in place. Mr Rabbitte told the committee that companies such as Facebook should be willing to discuss sensible "take down" protocols with the governments of countries in which they doing business.
"If there was a working protocol in place where the complainant knew precisely where to go and that if the material was objectively offensive or hurtful that there was a speedy take down policy protocol established through the companies, I think that would meet a fair measure of the complaints."
Mr Rabbitte said there were plenty of examples where there was no disagreement between the company and the complainant and in those circumstances there should be clearly identifiable way for the issue to be assessed and quickly acted on.
"It is disturbing that some colleagues have come to me in the past to tell me about a particular case or issue where they found it very difficult to source someone in certain companies would admit to have the responsibility in this regard," he said.
Mr Rabbitte said best practice would eventually evolve because the Ireland's experience was similar to that experienced across the world.
Representatives from social media companies will meet the committee today.