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Ireland Calls on Tech Giants to Muzzle Election “Misinformation”

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Ireland’s Electoral Commission Chief Executive Art O’Leary is warning tech companies behind major social media platforms to adhere to what he considers their responsibilities in the electoral process.

One the one hand, O’Leary is effectively threatening they could facing unspecified “reputational consequences” that are “not good” in case they are found to be uncooperative in what appears to be the ultimate goal here – censorship, i.e., “removal of material” that is found to be causing “damage to democracy.”

On the other hand, the Electoral Commission chief seems satisfied that the companies the Irish authorities would like to keep under control during the campaign period are in fact “very conscious” of the circumstances, and will, in other words, “behave.”

This obvious attempt to secure that tech firms censor content of their own accord is necessary since the current laws in Ireland do not allow the Commission to impose such decisions; but O’Leary is optimistic and says that the organization he heads has forged “positive relations” with these companies – all the way to “mechanisms to ensure disinformation is taken down quickly,” say reports.

The elections O’Leary has in mind are local Irish and European Parliament ballots scheduled for early June, and as far as the authorities in that country are concerned, “disinformation” is expected from only one corner of the domestic political spectrum – what they brand as “the far-right.”

That’s because groups allegedly espousing such views are planning protests in Dublin – and despite the fact that their political opponents plan the same, that is, to hold so-called “counter-rallies.”

But only the “far right” is singled out as the potential source of “disinformation,” which has a decent chunk of the state apparatus, (national police security and intelligence department, broadcasting regulator, etc.) mobilized to deal with it and what are considered “online harms.”

Now the Election Commission is also joining these efforts, with O’Leary sharing his thought process in an interview he gave the Irish Examiner.

He admitted that there has been “no real evidence” that foreign countries are trying to interfere in the elections, yet this does not prevent alarmist rhetoric, including around that possibility, and AI generated content.

Another of O’Leary’s ideas is to consider extending the moratorium on election coverage imposed on legacy media to online outlets.

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