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Communications Committee hears detailed briefing from Facebook and Twitter representatives

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications this morning continued its hearings on the challenges facing individuals, families and communities from the rise of social media, including the challenges posed by cyber-bullying and online harassment.

7 March 2013

Sinead McSweeney of Twitter and Simon Milner and Patricia Cartes of Facebook were before the Committee to outline the mechanisms in place for users to report offensive content.

Chairman of the Committee Tom Hayes TD says: "This morning was a valuable opportunity to hear from directly social media companies  as we continue our hearings into social media. We thank representatives from both Twitter and Facebook for their clear and detailed presentations which outlined the power and popularity of both social media platforms. We acknowledge that, given the sheer volume of traffic on both social media channels, the filtering of inappropriate content is a challenge. We heard that both companies have robust terms of use and have built in ‘take-down’ or blocking mechanisms on their websites when offensive comments are posted.

“While we take on board the efforts both companies are making in raising public awareness, a number of Committee Members pointed to the need to ensure they’re more prominently publicised, particularly within school communities. A number of Committee Members pointed out that while bullying is nothing new, cyber-bullying poses particular challenges that parents and educators need to be aware of. This morning’s presentation will inform a Committee Report, which will contain recommendations in this complex and fast-changing area.

“As mentioned at the outset of this process, our Committee is conducting these hearings with open minds. The Committee’s public consultation remains open until 29 March. Citizens can make their contribution via www.oireachtas.ie and on social media channels themselves and we thank all those individuals and groups who have taken the time to make a contribution so far. We resume our hearings next Wednesday 13 March when we welcome representatives from the National Anti-Bullying Coalition. On Wednesday, 20 March, we are scheduled to meet representatives from YouTube.”

Have your say: View more on the Committee's public consultation and make a submission.

For further information contact:
Paul Hand,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Communications Unit,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2
P: +353 1 618 4484
M: +353  87 694 9926

Terms of Reference for Discussions on Social Media
1.    To provide a forum for debate on the challenges facing individuals, families and communities from the rise of social media, including the challenges posed by cyber-bullying and online harassment
2.    To receive a Ministerial perspective and an official overview of the measures in place, including legislative measures, to meet the challenges posed by social media
3.    To receive the views of the primary social media networks, i.e. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
4.    To allow a time period for public consultation and for the receipt of submissions on this topic

Committee Membership

Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin
Timmy Dooley, Fianna Fáil
 Dessie Ellis, Sinn Féin
 Terence Flanagan, Fine Gael
 Tom Fleming, Independent
 Noel Harrington, Fine Gael
 Tom Hayes, Fine Gael (Chairman)
Seán Kenny, Labour
Eamonn Moloney, Labour
Michael Moynihan, Fianna Fáil
 Patrick O’Donovan, Fine Gael
 John O’Mahony, Fine Gael (Vice-Chairman)
 Ann Phelan, Labour
 Brian Walsh, Fine Gael
 Terry Brennan
 Sean D. Barrett
 Eamonn Coghlan
 Paschal Mooney
 Ned O’Sullivan
 John Whelan