Diane Dodds MEP Non-attached Member of the European Parliament
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Dodds challenges Facebook CEO at European Parliament

DUP MEP Diane Dodds used Tuesday evening's session of the European Parliament’s Conference Presidents to challenge Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on cyberbullying.  She raised the case of Tyrone teenager Ronan Hughes who took his own life following cyber bullying by a fake Facebook account almost 3 years ago.


Commenting, Mrs Dodds said:


“While other issues have been very much to the fore, and equally important for our security and democracy, as a parent I wanted to ensure that the protection of our children was on the agenda at this session.


It was important that Mark Zuckerberg and his corporation were challenged not only on political concerns but on the very real and ongoing issue of social media platforms like Facebook being used to bully, blackmail and torment those vulnerable to mental health issues, self-harm and suicide. This is a scourge on all societies but has proven a particular problem in Northern Ireland.”

“Ronan’s story is one that has always come to my mind when cyberbullying or social media are discussed. His family could be any young family, anyone’s son or daughter who find themselves tormented or in a dark place where family and friends cannot protect them.


This is one story, but there are and continue to be too many stories like Ronan’s. That is why I asked Mark Zuckerberg what work he is doing with authorities and third parties to ensure young people and families are educated about online safety, who they can contact and how they can seek help. Facebook and other social media platforms are hugely profitable and have a social responsibility to their users and society as a whole to ensure they do good and not harm. This includes doing much more to tackle the rise of malevolent fake accounts that are used to spread hate and target other users.


This applies not only to the poison of cyberbullying, but in recent years we have also witnessed social media platforms to spread vile extremism, recruit for terror groups and most recently contributing to the rising tide of anti-Semitism. These are all issues that Facebook must grapple with and I put that directly to Mr. Zuckerberg.


Mr. Zuckerberg dealt with issues raised thematically, lacking engagement with the detail of questions, but has committed to Facebook contacting MEPs who contribute directly to answer the more specific points raised. I look forward to hearing more on plans to help protect our young people and others who are particularly vulnerable to such abuse or trolling.”


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