IRELANDs new media commission must be able to come down hard on social media companies that target vulnerable individuals for profit, it has been claimed.
Instagram were recently forced to apologise after their algorithms were offering diet products to people with eating disorders.
Fianna Fail councillor Malcolm ByrneCredit: Not known, clear with picture desk
Instagram algorithms targeted people with eating disordersCredit: Alamy
And Tipperary mum Aisling ONeill recently told the Irish Sun that her racially abused 16-year-old daughter Mia clicked on links about mental health and suicide on Facebook – and this led to the sites algorithms ­bombarding her with similar material, before she took her own life.
Now Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne has insisted that the planned new Media Commission will have the power to monitor and take action on the use of algorithms and by social media companies.
Senator Byrne said: This is a huge area as more and more decisions are being made by simply using machine learning.
Decisions about everything from what we watch to more importantly, who gets employed and what entitlements we may have are being made by algorithms and we need mechanisms in place to ensure that they dont reinforce discrimination.
The new Media Commission will have a significant role in regulating tech companies in Ireland across Europe and in particular in the area of online safety.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in the recent case the inclusion of such harmful terms as appetite suppressant was an oversight.
In a statement the company said: To help people discover content theyre interested in, we recently rolled out a new way to search on Instagram beyond hashtags and usernames, where you tap on the search bar and we suggest topics you may want to search for.
Those suggestions, as well as the search results themselves, are limited to general interests. Weight loss should not have been one of them and weve taken steps to prevent these terms from appearing here. Were sorry for any confusion caused.
Meanwhile, Digital Rights Ireland is calling on victims of the recent major Facebook data breach to join a legal case against the tech giant in what will be the largest-ever mass action of its kind.
EU citizens were among the half a billion people affected by mass recent data breach, where individuals names, Facebook IDs and phone numbers were compromised.
DRI have made a complaint to the Irish Data Protection Commission and are now preparing to take the case to the Irish courts on behalf of individuals affected by the breach.
Dr TJ McIntyre, Chairperson of DRI, said: DRI is calling on EU residents to join us in taking action against Facebook for monetary damages.
Forcing companies like Facebook to pay money to users whose privacy rights theyve violated is the most effective way to really change the behaviour of these big tech companies.
In comparable cases in other jurisdictions damages have varied between 300 and £12,000 for breach of one persons rights.
To check if you are impacted by the Facebook data breach, visit the DRI campaign website at
Largest ever mass action is against Facebook for a date breachCredit: AP:Associated Press