Simon Harris, Ireland’s Education Minister, has raised alarms about what he suggests is the rampant spread of “disinformation” on social media, describing it as a significant threat to democracy.
His concerns mirror those of Tánaiste Micheál Martin, particularly in light of the recent Dublin riots, where social media has been blamed for spreading “hate,” a notion that the government in Ireland is using as an excuse to call for more censorship online.
The riots, characterized by violence and destruction, followed a stabbing by an immigrant citizen outside a north city center school, injuring three children and a woman.
Harris, in his statement, specifically criticized Elon Musk’s X for its failure to censor certain speech.
On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Harris expressed his full agreement with the Tánaiste.
“I think there is a very serious issue, not just in this country, but in western democracies now in relation to social media platforms, which I use, which I appreciate and which have great value – but also when wrongly used having an ability to spread disinformation and undermine democracy,” Harris said.
According to The Journal, he said that by early next year “there will be a ‘legally binding’ statutory online code in relation to the removal of information that is deemed to be disinformation.”
As many politicians often do, Harris attempted to suggest that he supports free speech while calling for the censorship of “disinformation.”
From the report:
“The Minister said he would ‘absolutely defend’ the right to free speech, adding ‘it’s the cornerstone of all democracy.’
“What we’re talking about here is the spread of disinformation and the spread of hatred. And I simply wouldn’t be, nor would I wish to, but I wouldn’t be allowed to in this studio. The social media platform is a form of media, it is a media platform and therefore I think there are real legitimate questions around the rules that apply online,” he said.
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