Twitter, Lidl Division, Fiona Ryan, Jonathan Mathis, Jack Chambers, Karen White

Twitter, Lidl Division

Twitter disputes claims over couple abused online

Twitter has disputes claims that it did not do enough to respond to racist and abusive content on its site which a mixed race couple in Co Meath said forced them to leave the country.

09/10/2019 22:39:00

Twitter has defended its handling of racist tweets that forced a mixed-race couple to leave the country. It was among a number of tech companies that appeared before an Oireachtas committee to discuss harmful online content. |

Twitter has disputes claims that it did not do enough to respond to racist and abusive content on its site which a mixed race couple in Co Meath said forced them to leave the country.

It comes as Garda Commissioner Drew Harris launched a new working definition for hate crime. He said he is concerned about the under-reporting of the issue and wants a uniform response across the country.Fianna Fáil's Jack Chambers said Twitter's decision to simply remove tweets aimed at Fiona Ryan and her fiancé Jonathan Mathis was "weak" and that the service provided hateful content to a huge audience.

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The couple received death threats after appearing in a Lidl ad campaign and announced last week that they had left the country with their 22-month-old son.Mr Chambers questioned Twitter executives at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice."If someone with a huge amount of followers brings hatred to a big audience that promotes a racist message to a huge audience, does a simple deletion of that rectify and remedy the consequences for a person who feels they have to leave the country?," he asked.

Twitter Policy Director, Karen White said: "I would sympathise with anyone who has been subjected to targeted abuse or harassment of violent threats whether it's online or offline. It's abhorrent and unacceptable." Read more:Online abuse leaves mother fearing for son's safety

She added: "I cannot speak to the individual circumstances, but I want to reassure the committee that we have very robust policies in place in Twitter around hateful behaviour and hateful conduct and violent threats when we are made aware there is a range of enforcement actions we can take."

These enforcement actions include asking a user to delete offensive content, locking their accounts or suspending it if they persistently violate Twitter's own rules.These measures are having a "real world impact," Ms White said.She told the committee there is a "wider societal issue that needs to be addressed here" and that "simply removing content from a service is not in all instances going to change the intolerance".

However, Mr Chambers said: "Your net response is to broaden the fudge, that seems to be your public policy response to a lot of f issues: It is complicated, it is multinational, we are platforms not publishers."I think when you bring it down to the family that was affected on your platform, the response from Twitter was to delete the tweet and that was it. Surely your enforcement mechanisms can be improved."

Earlier, Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy said he could not understand how the representatives of tech companies were "morally comfortable" with claiming they do not have liability for content that they publish.He referenced one incident where images of a "horrific incident" were shared multiple times on Facebook which inflicted "absolute horror" on a family for which there was no comeback. He also described an incident where a murder was live streamed on Facebook "using a streaming facility put in for profit."

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He said: "I cannot understand morally how people are comfortable defending not having a liability for that." He said these companies should be subject to the same laws and regulations as newspapers or broadcasters or other publishers: "I think the principle under which you operate is wrong," he said. "I don't accept this made up term of 'intermediary'. To me you are publishers and you should have the liabilities of publishers.

"As an industry you have pulled off an amazing trick over many decades which has enriched you and your shareholders to a vast level, and the cost is too great," he said.Director of Public Policy with Facebook, Dualta Ó Broin, said: "What you are getting close to is a monitoring obligation on all content and that would fundamentally change the basis on which our companies operate."

Claire Rush of Facebook said: "If we had that additional layer or that heightened level of publisher-type responsibility you would have people queuing at the door to take claims and all sorts."If anything I would actually say that if there was this obligation to pre-review or pre-screen or pre-moderate every single piece of content against all the laws all over the world wherever that content might be shared, regardless of the operational burden and cost it would actually have a huge chilling effect.

Read more: RTÉ News »

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how are you going to control with people think ,say or write about you? it’s impossible imo, focusing on accepting hatred always has and always will exist is a better solution than running away. imofwiw.. Anyway RTE should be sold off to the highest bidder. Its a basket case and it's getting worse, losing viewers like the new time. Time to switch off the tap before its too late.

That they were forced to leave the country is an outright lie. Was false and misleading advertising. They are not the Ryans, they are actors. They did not save €€'s on their weekly shop, they probably don't do a weekly shop. Foul play on all sides in fairness. Lots of death threats and glorification of violence towards right figures put up by the Irish communist brigade. Ps. Get ready for being arrested for 'mean tweets'

They never lived in Ireland, i remember i was forced out of malta ( ahh yeah , my holiday was finished:, same thing is it not) These attention-seekers live in London. It was originally reported they were ‘a family’; which is not true. None of the ‘threats’ have been in any way substantiated. Race politics are being used to subjugate whites This is likely a hate-crime hoax

“The Ryans”. Yeah, right. Grandparent cry broken branch just turn off the computer just close your eyes Grand parent shame forced to leave a country by mean tweets I call BS. liangweihan4 Species incorrect He should head back home to Brazil and help Pres Bolsonaro, MBGA. loike I had to flee to London eh because loike I had other work over there and loike I'm just saying everybody's a racist who doesn't swallow the garbage I spewed and loike I'm not really an actor loike

After they'd finished their acting jobs in the Lidl advert they went back to their homes in England to do more acting work. Fixed that for ye. Obviously not too shuck or fearful for the kids life they stuck around to do a late late show interview more money in the bank never once explains the so call threats answers 'you know' well no Fiona why don't you tell us !!

LIARS Rte still trying to pump up this story.People see through it at this stage The Journalism here is terrible RTE are terrible , that'sthe kind of comment mainstream media want censored FreeSpeech And yet the account gemmaod1 that started it all is still active. What’s so wrong with two people in love ?

liangweihan4 Stop race mixing Tweets bad, actual crimes, ahhh they're grand. will the media stop going on and on about this for the love of god they'd make this go away if they'd stop f--kin talkin about it Whoever sent a death threat or racist abuse on facebook is fucked. Can easily be traced. Twitter has tried to defend the indefensible.

Death threats are something for the gardai to investigate. It would be interesting to know a) how many death threats were sent b) how many abusive tweets were sent c) where the senders suspended by twitter ? Handling? Pretty sure they did absolutely nothing. Problem reaction solution

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Twitter dismisses claims over couple abused onlineFianna Fáil's Jack Chambers said Twitter 's decision to simply remove tweets aimed at Fiona Ryan and her fiancée Jonathan Mathis was 'weak' and that the service provided hateful content to a huge audience Give it a rest RTE!! They need to delete Gemma o Doherty, Ireland biggest racist. i don't get why they're leaving the country though to go to germany how is germany any better than ireland in the last two years in germany there's been many terror and attempted terror attacks how is germany safer than ireland

TD slams Twitter's 'weak' response to online abuse of family who appeared on Lidl adThe Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said officers are identifying suspects involved in online abuse directed at a family, who have been forced to leave Ireland after receiving a death threat.