Monday 24 July 2017

Press Council calls for regulatory system for social media after man falsely identified as sex offender

David Murray appeared on RTE PrimeTime
David Murray appeared on RTE PrimeTime
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

THE Press council has called for the introduction of a regulatory system for social media after an innocent man was falsely accused of being a sex offender on Facebook.

Last month a member of the public posted a photograph of David Murray on the KildareNow Facebook page and said that the image was that of Anthony Luckwell, a man convicted of sexual offences against children.

As a result Mr Murray was forced to hide in a pub for his personal safety until gardai could arrive to escort him away.

Mr Murray approached the KildareNow Facebook page to seek a retraction of the post, which was later removed.

In a statement issued this afternoon, The Press council of Ireland condemned the 'appalling treatment' of Mr Murray. 

Although Mr Murray decided not to purse defamatory proceedings against KilldareNow, he did want to make a formal complaint to the Press Council about the publication.

Membership of the Press Council is voluntary - although all national newspapers, most local newspapers and a range of other magazines and news websites are members. KildareNow is not a member, therefore the Press Council could not investigate the complaint.

The body points out this leaves Mr Murray with no other regulatory body to turn to in seeking redress.

Facebook, and all other social media sites, don't fall under the principles of the Press Council.

The council called for the introduction of a regulatory system for social media:

"(Social media sites) should be required to develop an independent regulatory body that would offer a fair means of redress for people who believe that information about themselves posted on social media is inaccurate or misleading.

"If social media cannot or will not put in place such structures they should be made subject to national and/or international governmental oversight."

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