may base itself in Ireland, but social-media abuse isn’t about geography. [ IrishTimes, by Brian Boyd, 8/11/2014].

Would you, at any stage today, go into a shop, bar or restaurant, approach someone you didn’t know and call them “a fat, ugly slut”? Or say you hope they “die of cancer”, before casually moving on? It happens on

The site is most popular among 13- to 18-year-olds; anti-bullying charities have called for it to be boycotted. Parents have been urged to warn their children off using it. announced this week that it is moving its headquarters to Dublin, from its current site in Latvia. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said on Tuesday that there had been “real concerns and anxiety” about the site, adding that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs can work with the site on the issue of cyberbullying.’s chief executive, Doug Leeds, speaking about the move to Dublin, said the company had hired the world’s best safety experts to ensure a safe and bully-free environment for users. “The overwhelming majority of people who use the site are using it for entertainment, for conversation.”

With about 175 million users worldwide, is seen a parent-free digital space where many young teens get their first experience of social media. Primarily, it allows users to ask and answer questions from other members on the site. Some of the users are anonymous.

The site is generally benign, but a small percentage use it for a form of hate-speak.

Simple to use, can be a lively and engaging forum for teenagers to share their views on school, music and TV. But for some it is a magnified version of the school playground, where gangs form, individuals are picked on, and anonymous users post content that even in its most printable form runs to “drink bleach”, “go get cancer”, “go die”. A thirteen-year-old in the UK has been threatened with rape.

The founder of, Mark Terebin, has said that in his experience cyberbullying is worst in Ireland and the UK. “It seems children are more cruel in these countries.”

It’s certainly not exclusive to This sort of activity happens on several social-networking sites, but does seem to have become a particular source of worry.

Two young girls from Co Donegal, aged 15 and 13, took their own lives in 2012 after being subjected to abuse on the site. Some saw a connection between the posts and the girls’ deaths.

Prominent UK companies – including Vodafone, Specsavers and Laura Ashley – said last year they would not advertise on for ethical reasons, following cases there. The British prime minister, David Cameron, said people should boycott “vile” websites that allow cyberbullying.

Although Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan says that “ relocating to Dublin is a matter of concern”, and that it is an issue he will be raising with his colleagues, the reality is that it matters little where the site has its headquarters. Equally, the site could be banned tomorrow to little or no effect. The conversation would merely move elsewhere.

With due regard for the grief, anger and sadness of parents whose children have lost their lives, a panic about in isolation does not address the bigger issue.

Bullying behaviour, by both teens and adults, is endemic to social-media dialogue. And the worst bullying comes from those afforded anonymity.

On the more grown-up Twitter and Facebook sites, bullying and personally hateful remarks can be contextualised by adults who are generally more inured to their effects. But when your core audience is to 13- to 18-year-olds, it’s different. A 13-year-old today sees content online that would send shivers down the spine of the most robust and broad-minded adult.

Following the death of the 13-year-old Donegal girl Erin Gallagher, in 2012, the founder of, Mark Terebin, said that the site could not be held responsible for cyberbullying and that it is “necessary to go deeper and to find the root of the problem. It’s not about The problem is about education and moral values that have been devalued. Start with yourself; be more polite, kinder and more tolerant of others. Cultivate these values in families and in schools.”

Whatever your feelings about, Terebin’s point is at least partly true: in the online world, legislating against bullying behaviour is almost impossible – but educating about its causes, context and consequences is not.

Call for watchdog to tackle bullying online [Examiner, by Sarah Slater, 10/11/2014].

Jim Harding, founder of the anti-bullying group Bully4U, also called for more powers to independently audit social media organisations such as, Facebook and Twitter.

Bully4U provides training to children and teachers at primary and secondary school on the dangers of cyberbullying. It warns that a huge number of schoolchildren they deal with say many social media comments are of “an extreme sexual nature”.

Mr Harding has made the call for Government to introduce “badly needed” statutory powers following the announcement that, which allows users to post anonymous questions to others, is to relocate to Ireland.

Bully4U deals with thousands of schoolchildren every year and, in conjunction with the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at Dublin City University, held the first national cyberbullying conference in September.

“There really needs to be more substantial powers to independently audit such websites as People can just post comments anonymously, so there needs to be some sort of trail so that posts can be verified. Such posts include; ‘Go die, you are worthless,’” Mr Harding said.

“Having located in Dublin makes no difference when it comes to the use of social media as it has no worldwide borders. Hopefully one good thing of having the social media website located here is that it will push for the creation of a social media ombudsman, allowing these companies to be independently audited and for the introduction of fines if certain guidelines are not followed by these companies.

“Up to 30% of children we deal with feel that Twitter is the safest of the social media networks in use. Urgent measures to stop the creation of false social media accounts set up by children who are under the age of 13, need to be in place. Parents feel they have no influence in their children’s internet usage.” in a statement said it plans to introduce a “law enforcement affairs officer” based in Ireland.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has also voiced concern on moving to Ireland and intends to raise the issue with the Government. has come under scrutiny following the deaths by suicide of 15-year-old Ciara Pugsley in Leitrim and 13-year-old Erin Gallagher in Donegal in 2012. Erin’s older sister Shannon took her life soon afterwards. Their mother Lorraine has campaigned to have the site shut down.

Jonathan Pugsley, whose daughter Ciara took her life following alleged cyberbullying and who has condemned the relocating of to Ireland, said it “is worrying that the popularity of the site was increasing again”. chief executive Doug Leeds said: “I can tell you that there are 180m global unique users that visit each month. Ireland is still a relatively small market for us, but we’ve seen 30% growth for registered users in Ireland in the last year.

“In terms of daily new registered users on a global scale, there were 400,000 new users in one day (earlier this year) caused by a spike in registrations in Thailand in April. In the last three months, the average number of daily registrations is between 120,000 and 140,000.”

Images of NI schoolgirls on pornographic website [RTE.IE/News, 11/11/2014].

The police force said the images are not indecent, but they were on an pornographic website.

The BBC reported that 731 photographs of Northern Irish schoolgirls appeared on a website used by paedophiles.

It said the schoolgirls included pupils from 19 secondary schools in Northern Ireland.

The BBC said the photographs were taken or uploaded to social media by the girls themselves and then taken from those accounts without their consent.

PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent George Clarke said police were made aware of the images on 10 October.

He said: “Following consultation with the PPS, which has confirmed that the images do not appear to meet the criminal threshold for indecency, we have agreed with them to continue to investigate the matter to ascertain if any other criminal offence can be identified.”
Chief Supt Clarke said the website is based in the Netherlands and is therefore outside of the PSNI’s jurisdiction.

He said: “International Letters of Request have to be prepared in order to secure the information by way of assistance from the Dutch Authorities.

“Since there is no criminal offence yet identified that meets the threshold for the ILOR, this information is not compulsory for the website to provide.”

Chief Supt Clarke said the PSNI made contact with the website in question.

He said it removed the images, but it would not say who had uploaded them to the site.

“It is important to note that the website is under no legal obligation to provide this information or remove the photographs. The images have been removed,” he said.

“We have made contact with six schools and provided internet security advice and reassurance where needed.

“The fact that no crime has yet been identified was also highlighted.”