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30 Nov, 2023 11:12

EU state asked social media giants to censor posts

The only platform that refused to cooperate and take down “vile” posts was Elon Musk’s X, the Irish justice minister said
EU state asked social media giants to censor posts

Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee has claimed that most social media companies complied with the government’s requests to take down posts during last week’s Dublin riots. However, Elon Musk’s X refused, the minister said on Wednesday.

The minister’s statement follows mass unrest that erupted in the republic’s capital last Thursday over the arrest of a man who stabbed five people, including three children, outside a primary school. A five-year-old girl and a woman in her 30s are in critical condition. The man was later found to be an Irish citizen who had immigrated from Algeria.

During the unrest, angry rioters ended up setting fire to buses and police cars, looting shops, and clashing with law enforcement. More than 30 people were arrested in the aftermath, with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris claiming that the unrest was the fault of “a complete lunatic hooligan faction driven by far-right ideology.”

Taking questions in place of prime minister Leo Varadkar in the Irish parliament, McEntee was asked to comment on police claims that “far-right ringleaders” had used “sophisticated communication online” to gather and organize troops during the riots.

She responded by stating that the country’s security services were “actively engaging with TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or X” to take down what she described as “vile messages.”

While most platforms were cooperating, “X were not. They did engage. They did not fulfill their own customer standards,” McEntee said.

In the aftermath of the riots, Musk, who owns the platform, publicly accused the Irish prime minister of “hating the Irish people” and conducting a “massive attack on freedom of speech.” That was after Varadkar had proposed a modernization of incitement to hatred laws, as well as more powers for police to punish “hate speech” against protected groups such as foreign nationals, LGBTQ members, and ethnic minorities. 

Varadkar has also told Irish citizens that it was “totally wrong” to link immigration with crime following the knife attack that sparked the unrest, explaining that thousands more would come to the country because “Europe is paradise and Ireland is one of the best parts of paradise.”

Meanwhile, the country with a total population of just over 5 million people has been struggling to deal with unprecedented immigration, with 141,000 arriving between April 2022 and April 2023 alone, according to the Central Statistics Office.