Facebook posts on Roscommon eviction incident ‘unacceptable’, says Taoiseach

Calls on social media for violent attacks on the bailiffs in the Roscommon eviction incident are akin to “incitement of hatred” and “unacceptable”, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Facebook posts on Roscommon eviction incident ‘unacceptable’, says Taoiseach

Calls on social media for violent attacks on the bailiffs in the Roscommon eviction incident are akin to “incitement of hatred” and “unacceptable”, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

This week, after the violence during an eviction in Strokestown, Roscommon, posts on social media called for the bailiffs involved to be shot and fed to pigs, while a manager at KBC Bank was told he was a scumbag who should be in a coffin.

Facebook has said such post did not violate their terms of service and left the page up.

However, Mr Varadkar said such calls were not acceptable and should be taken down.

“As far as I am concerned, social media posts like that are incitement of hatred and incitement of violence,” he said. “And if you were a publisher of a newspaper or a broadcaster, you wouldn’t be allowed to promote that kind of stuff and you would be held accountable for it.

“Social media companies don’t seem to think that they are in any way accountable, I know they can’t control the posts that people put up on websites or on social networks, but they can take them down.

“And the fact that they don’t take down posts that incite hatred and incite violence is just unacceptable in my view.”

Mr Varadkar said that, from a Government point of view, “what we need to work out is what is the best and most effective way of changing that, and, you know, one of the things we are working on is a Digital Safety Commissioner and we could do that in 2019”.

“We just would need to be sure that would actually be effective, as we want to do something that is effective,” he said.

“You can always be seen to be doing things in politics, but we actually want to do something that works and Richard, in particular, is going to work in that area over the course of 2019.”

A Facebook spokesperson said earlier this week that while there was “no place for content such as bullying, incitement or glorification of violence on Facebook”, the page in question would not be shut down.

They said: “In this case, we reviewed the page in question and it was found not to be in violation of our policies.

“We urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate and take swift action. We complete the review of the vast majority of reports within 24 hours.”

An investigation into the conduct of a group of men who carried out an eviction in the Co Roscommon town has been commenced by the Private Security Authority (PSA).

The McGann family were evicted from their home in Falsk last Wednesday week.

In the early hours of last Sunday, the property was stormed by a gang who beat the security guards, burned their vans and cars, and forced them out of the house.

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