Facebook executives to appear before Oireachtas committee over harmful content

It comes after a Channel 4 investigation found staff were instructed not to remove content

Facebook executives to appear before Oireachtas committee over harmful content

File photo of a man looking at Facebook content at his work desk | Image: Jan Haas/DPA/PA Images

Policy and content executives from Facebook are to appear before the Oireachtas Communications Committee on Wednesday.

They will face questions about the social media platform's moderation of violent and harmful content.

It comes after a Channel 4 investigation found staff were instructed not to remove content from the social media platform, even when it violated the company's guidelines.

The programme examined the handling of several pieces of offensive material: including racist images and messages, a video of a young boy being beaten by an adult and footage of one teenage girl assaulting another.

The Dispatches programme, "Inside Facebook," used hidden-camera footage to show how content moderation practices are taught and applied within the company's operations in Dublin.

Committee chair Hildegarde Naughton says it is essential for lawmakers to question Facebook following the broadcast on July 17th.

She says the documentary raises new questions about Facebook's commitment and ability to police its content worldwide.

"The programme offered persuasive evidence that Facebook bends its own rules and tolerates abusive content, including in instances when the source in question has a large and lucrative following that drives revenue to Facebook.

"It is unacceptable for any company in Ireland to circulate material fomenting hate, bigotry, cruelty or sadism, particularly when involving children.

"The committee looks forward to hearing Facebook's response to the programme and its plans for credible, immediate reform of its policies and practices."

Scheduled to appear are Niamh Sweeney, head of public policy at Facebook Ireland and Siobhán Cummiskey, head of content policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten also met with Facebook management in New York following the programme.