Press Council calls for strong regulation of social media
The Press Council of Ireland 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 until gardai could escort him away.
Mr Murray approached the KildareNow Facebook page to seek a retraction of the post, which was later removed. Tthe Press Council condemned the 'appalling treatment' of Mr Murray. Although Mr Murray decided not to pursue defamation proceedings against KildareNow, he did want to make a formal complaint about the publication.
Membership of the Press Council is voluntary - although all national newspapers, local newspapers and a range of magazines and news websites are members. KildareNow is not a member, therefore the council could not investigate the complaint. Facebook and 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, saying such 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".