Media Commission raises concerns with social media companies over far-right content that fuelled Dublin riots

The Media Commission has raised concerns with social media companies over the publication of extremist far-right material on their platforms which led to the violent Dublin riots.

Media Minister Catherine Martin met with the Commission on Monday and received an update on their interactions with major social media firms since last week’s riots.

“Specifically, they noted that they had met with the four large platforms last Friday to outline their concerns over some of the extremist content that had been posted online,” a Government source said.

The Media Commission told the minister that the platforms, Meta, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok and Google, had activated their “incident response plans” when the riots kicked off.

The European Commission attended the meetings with the Media Commission. The Media Commission is continuing to engage with the online platforms and a follow-up meeting is due to take place later this week.

The Media Commission is also liaising with An Garda Síochána on the spread of far-right material online.

The Commission is set to publish draft online safety codes in the coming weeks, for consultation. The draft codes will set out binding rules on how online services deal with harmful content, including extremist content such as hate speech, threats and incitement to violence.

Last Friday, Minister Martin asked the Commission for an update on the progress on drafting the new codes and was told once the stakeholder consultation period is completed the new codes will be ready for publication in the first three months of 2024.

Social media firms that fail to comply with the new online safety code will face fines of up to €20m or 10pc of the company’s turnover.

Illegal content is also currently subject to the rules imposed under the new EU Digital Services Act, for which the European Commission has lead responsibility. The Media Commission will gain the power to enforce these rules in the new year.

Over the weekend, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said most social media groups were cooperating with Government attempts to take down extremist material.

However, Mr Martin said Elon Musk’s X was not cooperating, which he said was “absolutely unacceptable”.

“Legislation will be brought in that respect, and also we have to robustly engage with some media platforms in terms of their facilitation of such online hate and bile, which can lead to violence,” he said.

Mr Musk has been critical of the Irish Government’s attempts to introduce Hate Crime legislation.

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