Ir­ish want so­cial me­dia mora­to­rium for elec­tions

The Irish Times - - Business News - CHAR­LIE TAY­LOR

Ir­ish peo­ple are con­cerned about the data they share on­line be­ing used for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses with many want­ing so­cial net­works to abide by a mora­to­rium in the run-up to the Eu­ro­pean elec­tions, new re­search shows.

A poll car­ried out for the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion shows peo­ple in the Repub­lic are more wor­ried about on­line data be­ing used in tar­geted po­lit­i­cal mes­sages than cit­i­zens in any other Eu­ro­pean Union state. Over­all, 79 per cent of those sur­veyed ex­pressed con­cerns about their data be­ing mis­ap­pro­pri­ated for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses, com­pared to an EU av­er­age of 67 per cent. In ad­di­tion, al­most nine in 10 Ir­ish peo­ple said they want in­ter­net plat­forms to dis­close the amount of money they re­ceive from po­lit­i­cal par­ties and cam­paign groups, as well as the level of sup­port that they pro­vide to politi­cians. This was the third high­est re­sponse in the Eu­ro­pean Union.

Paid ad­ver­tis­ing

Ir­ish peo­ple also ranked strongly in want­ing so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies to make it clear which con­tent is paid ad­ver­tis­ing and who is pay­ing for it. Some 86 per cent ex­pressed con­cern about this ver­sus an EU av­er­age of 81 per cent. Some 83 per cent of those sur­veyed said they are also in favour of a mora­to­rium, such as that which ap­plies to Ir­ish broad­cast­ers, a day be­fore votes are cast in an elec­tion. This was again con­sid­er­ably higher than in most other mem­ber states.

A spokesman for the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion in Dublin said the idea of in­tro­duc­ing a so-called “pe­riod of re­flec­tion” for so­cial me­dia net­works is some­thing Eu­ro­pean cit­i­zens have sug­gested through pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions. Whether the com­mis­sion will fol­low up on the pro­posal re­mains to be seen. At this stage it is un­clear how any on­line mora­to­rium might be en­forced.

The Euro­barom­e­ter poll find­ings come in the same week that the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion said it was weigh­ing up the in­tro­duc­tion of heavy fines for po­lit­i­cal par­ties who mis­use vot­ers’ data.

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