Friday 22 September 2017

Social media is 'breaking the world' - we must fix it to protect democracy

'While the problem of social media has to be addressed, it is important that nothing is done to threaten the freedom of the press.' Stock photo: Getty/NurPhoto
'While the problem of social media has to be addressed, it is important that nothing is done to threaten the freedom of the press.' Stock photo: Getty/NurPhoto

Sean Donlon

There is a major anomaly, in Ireland as elsewhere, in the way in which organisations that provide news are treated. Newspapers and magazines and some online-only news publications are subject to a Code of Practice that is implemented by the Press Council, a body independent of the Government and the press.

Broadcasters are regulated by legislation and by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. Social media such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube are subject to no regulation or supervision, governmental or otherwise. This is despite the fact that Facebook and Google are now the largest and most influential entities in the world of news business. It is estimated that about half of us in Ireland take our news from digital media.

The traditional Irish media - press and broadcasters - continue to provide a generally reliable news service and have an international reputation for adhering to high standards of journalism. In contrast, social media can and does carry offensive, inaccurate and inappropriate Irish content.

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