Sinn Féin is lambasted over ‘ironic’ invoice to sort out on-line trolls

Sinn Féin has been criticized over its plans to introduce legislation to tackle anonymous trolls on social media.

he party’s proposed legislation would force tech firms to reveal the identity of anonymous account-holders who abuse and defame people online.

But Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said it is “ironic” that Sinn Féin is seeking to crack down on online abuse, given the activity of some of the party’s supporters on Twitter and Facebook.

“This is an extremely welcome and, indeed, interesting development,” the Dublin-Rathdown TD said.

“The issue has much merit, and I look forward to reading through the proposed legislation in detail.

“However, the fact that this is coming from Sinn Féin is utterly ironic.

“In advance of the publication, I do hope Sinn Féin themselves have taken a genuine look at the approach of their supporters to social media.”

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesperson Martin Kenny said the new law would prevent social media accounts from being used to defame, harass or abuse people online.

The legislation would hold social media companies responsible for defamation if they did not reveal the identity of a troll who has defamed someone on their platform.

“Trolling is never acceptable and cannot be allowed to go on due to government complacency. We must ensure no one is allowed to intimate or harass people on social media without being held to account,” the Sligo-Leitrim TD said. “Social media companies have a key responsibility in all of this.”

But Mr Richmond said: “Sinn Féin has an utterly appalling record in this regard and in its questionable approach to social media.

“From Serbian-based accounts, vicious internal Facebook groups, odious utterances from public representatives online and the famed pile-ons from anonymous Shinnerbots, it is definitely a new departure for Sinn Féin to become the self-appointed guardians of online content.”

Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne, who was previously targeted on Twitter by a Sinn Féin member, said: “The Government is currently seeking to address the question of online harms through the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill.

“But I welcome the principle of what Martin Kenny is trying to achieve. Apart from regulation, we know we need education and improvement in some people’s online behaviour.

“I would hope Sinn Féin would challenge the minority of its own supporters who engage in extensive online abuse and anonymous trolling, as well as come clean about its digital operations based in Belgrade.”

Mr Byrne was previously on the receiving end of online abuse from a Sinn Féin member in Wexford.

Last night, Mr Kenny said he did not accept Sinn Féin has a “particular problem” with supporters of the party abusing people online.

He said it was “a problem for all political parties” and the legislation he has published “shows Sinn Féin’s commitment to addressing the particular problem”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s drive timeMr Kenny said he did not know how many Sinn Féin members had been sanctioned for abusing people, but said “all political parties have an overzealous support base”.

Sinn Féin is continuously criticized for the abuse of some supporters publish online anonymously. They regularly attack political opponents and journalists on platforms such Twitter and Facebook.

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