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Social Media - Britain vs Ireland

Discussion in 'Domain Name News' started by Acorn Newsbot, Feb 1, 2013.

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  1. Acorn Newsbot

    Acorn Newsbot Junior Member

    Jan 2006
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    With the international headquarters of Facebook in Dublin, you could easily consider Ireland a centre for social media. Meanwhile, the UK has almost 33 million Facebook users and 10 million Twitter users, making its population one of the most eager consumers of social media in the world. However, despite the many similarities between the United Kingdom and Ireland, when it comes to rules about social media there’s a lot more than just the Irish Sea separating them.

    Of course there are some similarities. Both countries require people to be at least 13 to sign up to social media sites, but this is largely because such sites comply with American privacy laws.

    UK laws to be relaxed?
    2012 was a year of charges and arrests for users of social media sites in the UK who had, according to the 2003 Communications Act, made public a ‘message or other matter that is grossly indecent, or is of an indecent, obscene or menacing character’. From jokes about missing children to statements that people should die, a lot of people were offended.

    However, even many who were offended did not believe that such cases should have led to criminal convictions. It seems that the top lawmakers are also aware that the law may be overstepping its mark somewhat, and they are now discussing whether new guidelines are needed. It is thought that the threshold for criminal charges is so low that freedom of speech may be infringed; something that has been under intense scrutiny over the past year due to the Leveson Enquiry.

    Tightening regulations in Ireland
    While the UK is looking at ways to increase freedom of speech, Ireland is arguably looking to clamp down. The Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications is to look at whether further regulation about public comments online is needed. This is largely in response to a number of recent high profile suicides, including one by TD Shane McEntee.

    With a lot of rhetoric centring on the ease with which people can make anonymous comments, some in the Republic are wondering whether some kind of real name verification law, such as the one recently implemented in China, may be suggested. Civil liberties groups fear that such a system will not only quell free speech but could lead to people feeling as if they cannot challenge politicians. They also point out that there are already laws in place to charge people who use social media to harass others, such as the part on harassment in the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997.

    A reflection of the cultures?
    It is perhaps fair to say that Ireland has always been the more conservative of the two countries due to its much larger Catholic population, and that this has been reflected in the respective governments’ approach to regulating social media. However, there are still plenty of people in Ireland who will no doubt protest against what they see as a violation of the right to free speech, and plenty in the UK who believe that free speech is being abused.

  2. Domain Forum

    Acorn Domains Elite Member

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