Naughten to meet Facebook management over harmful content concerns

An investigation found staff were instructed not to remove content that violated guidelines

Naughten to meet Facebook management over harmful content concerns

File photo of Communications Minister Denis Naughten speaking to the media at the at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin | Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The Communications Minister Denis Naughten is to meet Facebook management in New York on Thursday.

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.

Extreme content, including assaults on children and images of self harm, all remained on the site.

The 'Inside Facebook' investigation sent an undercover reporter to training sessions at Cpl Resources, the company's biggest content moderation centre in the UK, and at its office in Dublin.

Facebook has admitted that the investigation highlighted problems at its training centres and its bosses have apologised.

Minister Naughten is attending a United Nations Forum on Sustainable Development in New York.

Speaking from there, he said: "I am aware of the contents of the Channel 4 programme and I am deeply concerned.

"The programme which was broadcast raises serious questions for the company in respect of the manner in which it handles reports of harmful or illegal content carried on its platform; the internal procedures it has in place to moderate harmful or illegal content on its platform; and the systems the company has in place to report instances of abuse, suspected abuse or other illegal activity to the appropriate authorities, including An Garda Síochána."

The logo of Facebook and a thumb down is seen on a screen | Image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images
 

He added: "Clearly Facebook has failed to meet the standards the public rightly expects of it.

"I have sought an urgent meeting with Facebook management and this meeting is taking place here in New York on Thursday".

Meanwhile the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said fines on social media companies for allowing indecent content to stay online need to be significant to have any effect.

On Wednesday he said: "These are companies that make a lot of monies from advertising so the fine would have to be commensurate so that it would cause a change in behaviour.

"There's no point in having fines that could be easily absorbed - they would have to be large enough that it would hit the profits of a company and cause them to change their behaviour and conduct".