Facebook battles to beat the cyberbullies [Herald.ie, by Cormac Murphy, 31/7/2013 ]

FACEBOOK is trying to improve its reporting tools to combat cyber-bullying and other unsavoury online activities.

However, the social network giant with 1.1bn users worldwide does not keep data on complaints it receives.

It also said every complaint is assessed by a Facebook employee who then decides whether action is needed.

The briefing at the company’s Hanover Quay premises – its European HQ – took place amid ongoing controversies about users’ privacy and criminal activity online.

It emerged yesterday that bosses at Twitter could be hauled before MPs in Britain over actions to safeguard people from explicit and violent messages after a feminist campaigner and a Labour MP were sent rape threats.

Separately, Facebook has had to deny it allowed the National Security Agency in the US access to its servers.

The briefing heard Facebook received 9,000 valid requests from law enforcement officials in the US in the six months until the end of December 2012.

The reasons ranged from national security to a sheriff trying to locate a missing child.

In total, 19,000 users were affected, but Facebook is “very aggressive in pushing back against law enforcement requests” to protect subscribers’ privacy, according to its global chief privacy officer, Erin Egan.

No data was available on how many requests were made by gardai. It was reiterated that no access to the company’s servers has ever been granted to law enforcement officials.

Facebook has rules for investigating bullying, but distinguishes between offensive comments and direct bullying.

The company said it can’t solve cyberbullying but accepts it has a responsibility “to work towards that”.

“If someone is being bullied and they report it to us, we’re very strict on bullying, we take it down,” Facebook’s policy communications manager Linda Griffin said.

British PM David Cameron said he was worried about children running up large bills on online purchases, as well as the consequences of young people putting too much information on social media sites.

He said he would let Nancy (9), Arthur (7) and Florence (2) sign up to Facebook when they are older, but said he would warn them against damaging their career prospects.

Meanwhile, the company has no plans to cease hosting the controversial ask.fm app, which has been at the centre of a string of bullying cases.

Ask.fm founder Mark Terebin has rejected any link between the website and teenage suicide.

MEP Kelly to host cyber-bullying forum in Limerick [ Limerick Leader, by Fintan Walsh, 30/7/2013 ]

Forum on cyber bullying: Sean Kelly MEP
Forum on cyber bullying: Sean Kelly MEP

A NATIONAL forum on cyber-bullying, to help prevent people from being harassed online, is set to be held in Limerick at the end of September.

As part of Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly’s push to introduce an international campaign against cyber-bullying, the forum on September 27, in Kilmurry Lodge Hotel will be the second of its kind in Ireland.

“It [cyber-bullying] is a very serious challenge for parents, teachers, mental health and youth/community workers. It has fuelled a national and Europe-wide debate on how to best to tackle the issue,” he said.

Mr Kelly said in order to tackle the problem, which affects 1,700 young European citizens annually according to Beat Bullying UK, a variety of organisations from all over the EU should get involved.

“We need to change the behaviour, the attitude and the belief systems that allow bullying to persist in our schools, in our communities and in workplaces in some cases. We cannot allow any more young people to be tortured and negatively impacted in this way anymore.”

As well as constant anti-bullying programmes in schools, the Fine Gael MEP said he wishes to see a day dedicated to raising awareness about the issue.

“I am also strongly advocating for the establishment of an EU Anti-Bullying Day to raise awareness of the issue,”


Calls for anti-cyber bullying body [ Independent.ie, 18/7/2013 ]

Politicians have called for a new body to help stamp out cyber bullying among teenagers.

Facebook revenues have soared
Facebook revenues have soared

As a new cross-party report revealed that 95% of 11 to 16-year-olds use Facebook, Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony said an organisation along the lines of the Road Safety Authority should be set up to regulate social media sites.

“A number of years ago there was a problem with road safety, with 400 people being killed a year on the roads,” he said.

“The Road Safety Authority came in and there was a whole lot of campaigns, some legislation and all of that, and resulted in that issue being never eliminated, but dealt with and heading in the right direction.

“We’re in the top five for road safety in Europe.

“The analogy I would use for a regulatory body that would deal in some way with cyber bullying would be the way to go here to avoid the difficulties and the tragedies involved with cyber bullying.”

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications criticised the Office for Internet Safety for not doing enough to tackle cyber bullying on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Bebo, and video upload You Tube.

With around 10% of teens admitting to having been bullied online, the committee recommended that a single body be given responsibility to regulate content, saying state funding would be agreed upon between Government and the industry.

Cyber bullying came under the spotlight following a number of suicides last year, including the death of 15-year-old Ciara Pugsley from Co Leitrim and 13-year-old Erin Gallagher from Co Donegal.

Erin’s sister Shannon, 15, took her own life two months later.