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A complaint system for social media content will be in place by 2024

A mechanism for people to complain about content posted on social media will be put in place gradually over the next few years, starting with complaints relating to children.

Tech companies would be “required” to sign online safety codes once they are drafted, and given a year to put them into practice before complaints can be filed.

Complaints are reportedly being filed with online media regulator Coimisiun na Mean, which is expected to be set up early next year.

Irish Media Minister Catherine Martin (right) and Isolde Goggin chair of an expert group examining a complaints system for content posted on social media (Grainne Ni Aodha/PA)

It is expected that people will be able to file complaints through this mechanism by mid to late 2024.

Ireland’s Minister for Media, Culture and Tourism, Catherine Martin, said the panel had recommended that the complaints mechanism deal with people who have “exhausted complaints procedures by all online services”, such as social media companies.

The individual complaints mechanism would deal with “issues not specific to the offence”, such as cyberbullying and services promoting eating disorders or suicide, or knowledge of ways to kill oneself.

In cases where the complaints are upheld, it could result in “removal of content if necessary, this content limitation order, and if this is not done, it could be considered a criminal offence.”

“There is no fine, per se, in relation to the individual complaints mechanism, but it is because we hope the systemic regulation works,” she said.

The announcement was made on the basis of recommendations from an expert panel reviewing an individual complaints mechanism, chaired by Isolde Goggin.

Ms Goggin said: ‘It’s mainly about trying to get the content removed.

“These are areas that are not criminal offences, but nevertheless can be very harmful to individuals, not just because of the nature of the content, because of the way it is delivered to people.

“Because it’s complementary to systemic regulation, you know, online platforms will learn.

“They’re not stupid, they learn what works and what doesn’t, what gets them into trouble and what doesn’t.”

“You go from a zone of nothingness to being tied to these codes,” the minister added.

Asked what social media companies think of the ruling, Ms Martin said her officials had been in contact with all stakeholders regarding the complaints mechanism.

“They have to register,” she said. “I have always said that I will take the side of the most vulnerable, but there have been extensive consultations throughout the process.”

The minister will now bring an amendment to the Online Safety Media Regulation Bill to the Dail committee stage.


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