Monday 26 August 2019

Court injunction ordering social media companies to remove boys' photos will remain in place

Court: Andrew Fitzpatrick SC was representing Twitter at Dublin Central Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts
Court: Andrew Fitzpatrick SC was representing Twitter at Dublin Central Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

An injunction is to remain in place ordering Facebook and Twitter to remove any photographs or material which identifies the two boys found guilty of murdering Ana Kriegel.

The interim injunction was amended slightly yesterday and now relates to material or photos tending to identify Boy A and Boy B which the social media giants "become aware of or which is brought to their attention".

An order on Wednesday had directed the companies to remove photos and restrained further publication of any material identifying Boy A and Boy B.

The teenagers cannot be identified because they are children under the Children Act 2001 and due to orders made by Mr Justice Paul McDermott during the trial.

That order was made on an ex parte basis in the absence of Twitter and Facebook.

Representatives of Facebook and Twitter were in court yesterday after a judge ordered they be brought before him to answer allegations of contempt of court over the publication of photographs identifying the two boys.

The social media companies said they were respectful of the law and the court and aware of the sensitive nature of the trial. However, they argued they could not stop in advance what users chose to post on their platforms.

Brendan Grehan SC, for the DPP, said the DPP had acted with speed on Tuesday in seeking the orders as it was aware material identifying the boys was online and there was concern it could go viral.

Rossa Fanning SC, for Facebook, said there was no legal basis for suggesting Facebook was in contempt of court.

He said there was no requirement for the order to remain in place against Facebook, which had acted "extremely expeditiously" to remove any material.

Facebook had also used image matching technology to block the images from being re-posted by other users.

However, Mr Fanning said other photos could emerge which the software might not detect.

Mr Fanning said Facebook was not aware of the names of Boy A and Boy B and he was concerned that Facebook could inadvertently and unknowingly be in breach of a court order, and asked the court to lift the injunctions.

Andrew Fitzpatrick SC, for Twitter, said it had taken immediate steps to remove the posts once it had been informed of them.

However, Mr Fitzpatrick said Twitter could not stop in advance what users choose to post on its platform.

Mr Grehan told the court he wanted the "stick" of the injunctions to remain in place.

He went on to add that contempt of court proceedings were still live.

The order was amended slightly, directing the companies to remove material which "they become aware of or which is brought to their attention".

Mr Justice Michael White adjourned the matters for two weeks.

Irish Independent

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