Facebook failed to take down posts targeting senior Quinn Industrial Holdings officials prior to last month’s kidnap and attack on company executive Kevin Lunney, an Oireachtas Committee has heard.
Oireachtas Justice Committee chair Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin revealed that he had met with QIH executives - including Mr Lunny - who expressed their concerns that Facebook content they had reported was not taken down by the company.
He raised the issue with Dualta Ó Broin, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy for Ireland, during a committee meeting on online harassment.
“These Facebook pages, certainly one, referenced by name, the senior executives of QIH, and allegations were made against them. Other posts included mock-ups of posters calling individuals traitors and warning of consequences,” Mr Ó Caoláin said.
“My question to you is this, as it would have been, if that attack had not taken place; they made repeated requests of Facebook, to remove the offensive material, and you have removed the offensive material, I understand, on the day after Kevin Lunny's kidnap and attack,” he said.
“I have to say that was action after the event, much too late. The material was offensive. It was intended to harm the good name and reputation of the people involved, and it fed into, in my opinion, certainly as a Dáil Deputy representing the constituency of Cavan Monaghan, a view that in some way these people, the named parties and the businesses that they were involved in, in some way, are a legitimate target for the worst excesses of what I can only describe as the most ill-informed people on this island,” Mr Ó Caoláin.
Mr Ó Broin conceded that one post in particular was taken down having initially passed a Facebook review.
“There's a focus on a particular post, and which I won't go into the details of, but essentially, just to give you a bit of a timeline, what happened was when it was reported to us, initially, it was originally found not to be violating our community standards.
“Since it was then re-reviewed, and found to be violating our community standards, and the post and the page on which is was appearing have been removed from the platform
“I think, having looked back on the post, what we should have done, was taken the wider context into account when the post was initially reviewed, that didn't happen. It was found not to be violating our privacy standards, we should have taken the wider context into account,” he said.