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Senator Lorraine Higgins

Oireachtas committee to consider cyber bullying

Senator Lorraine Higgins has written to the Oireachtas committee on communications to request that representatives from facebook and Twitter be called before it

Senator Higgins has sought their attendance at the committee in order to answer questions about their practices in light of the outcome of a recent survey by Vodafone, which found that one in every four children in Ireland have been cyber bullied, with 51% believing the issue to be bigger than drug abuse amongst young people and 45% feeling totally helpless when it happened to them.

Senator Higgins said, “This is an issue that I not only have been talking about but have introduced legislation on to curb abuse, threat as and cyberbullying online. While legislation is only one way to deal with the issue there are others like education and awareness within schools. However, that is not to say that social media companies should get off scot free when it comes to legal and moral responsibility for its users whom they depend on to generate profits of millions if not billions of euros on an annual basis.”

She said, in her experience, social media companies have shirked their responsibilities completely when it comes to providing a duty of care to their users.

“This has been made abundantly clear to me in recent times. Months ago, I wrote to Twitter and Facebook as a result of the inordinate number of messages I received from people who have been subjected to online abuse. Among the questions I asked were:

– How many complaints they have received?

– What is the average length of time it takes to investigate a complaint?

– How many complaints have referred to the Garda authorities?

“To date they have either failed, refused and or neglected to provide me with this information. Their reluctance to acknowledge any duty of care to their users is quite simply baffling,” she said.

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