Ireland and Facebook Working Together Against Cyberbullying

With cyberbullying on the rise and an increasing teen suicide rate, Ireland’s Department of Education has reached out to Facebook to address concerns about destructive online behavior.  A meeting between the two parties proved to be “positive and constructive,” reports Elaine Edwards of the Irish Times.

Teachers would like the company to assign a liaison person to work towards eliminating cyber bullying that occurs on the network.

In the Dáil last month, Mr Quinn said he was “ very disappointed” Facebook had indicated it would not engage directly with the NAPD and facilitate a meeting with the body.

A meeting had been scheduled between The National Association of Principals (NAPD) and Facebook, but it was canceled.

The NAPD was not able to attend the rescheduled meeting with Facebook, but the department said it had been worthwhile.

“Agreement was reached on a way forward to involve Facebook, the Department, second-level school management and leadership bodies, including the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, to work together to tackle bullying in Irish schools and to provide an effective channel for school leaders to escalate concerns when required.”

Facebook admitted earlier this year that it had serious difficulties with under-age users. Even though the site has an age limit that forbids anyone under the age of 13 to create an account, the site struggles to maintain the restriction. Facebook has been criticized for its privacy setting and policies, but the site does provide users with the option to block other users from contacting them.

83 million false accounts are estimated to be registered on Facebook. This issue is sometimes even enabled by parents who assist their children in lying about their age on Facebook.

Facebook executives take some responsibility, but also believe that bullying is a society-wide problem that cannot be completely eliminated on Facebook or on the internet as a whole.

Speaking in Dublin in February, director of policy for the UK and Ireland, Simon Milner, said there was no “silver bullet” solution for dealing with the cyber-bullying problem. But he maintained many children were registering accounts with their parents’ permission.

The site has gotten complaints about the other networking site app that Facebook hosts, including ask.fm. It does not allow for as many stringent safety options and lacks proper monitoring to eliminate harmful content.

Two Irish teenage girls committed suicide after enduring bullying on the ask.fm site last year, and Facebook is tightening up their policies on gender-based hate speech due to pressure from advertisers.

The company said there was “no place” on the social network for content that was threatening, incited violence or was “deemed to be genuinely or directly harmful”, but that “distasteful content on its own” does not violate its policies.