Taoiseach says big tech companies can do more to prevent online bullying

Leo Varadkar observes that "bullying & intimidation can come with you everywhere you go" in 2017

Taoiseach says big tech companies can do more to prevent online bullying

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Taoiseach says big technology companies can do more to prevent online bullying.

Leo Varadkar says having Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat accounts means kids may be unable to escape from bullies.

He has raised concerns about how children can be followed home by bullies reaching them online.

Mr Varadkar says there’s a responsibility on the social media giants to do more.

He said: "Can the big tech companies do more? Yeah, I think they can.

"I'm very conscious to the extent to which bullying has changed since you & I were kids. When we were kids, and it came to bullying, at least you could escape it - at least you could go home, or you knew there was somewhere to hide."

He added: "The difference now is that this content and this form of bullying & intimidation can come with you everywhere you go."

He suggested the companies themselves should 'step up to the plate' to do more to protect people, and noted the Government has decided against appointing a digital safety commissioner to address the issue. 

The Taoiseach acknowledged that it can be challenging to regulate online content because these companies are worldwide and do not reside in any one legal jurisdiction - but also expressed some concerns over the dangers of trying to regulate the web.

He observed: "I am always very nervous of anything that involves restrictions on freedom of speech, or the Government trying to regulate the internet.

"I would just be very loathe to go down that road unless we knew it would work... and secondly that it would actually be effectively."