Press Release: Irish public send clear message to Government – do not shy away from regulating social media and big tech

Published date: 
16 Oct 2021

Press Release
Irish public send clear message to Government – do not shy away from regulating social media and big tech

According to new research commissioned by the Children’s Rights Alliance’s 1,2,3 Online Safety Campaign, the Irish public not only support, but demand better regulation of online platforms and services.

Commenting on the research findings, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said, “What this research tells us is that the Irish public have had enough of the light-touch regulation that currently exists for big tech, social media and online platforms. These findings not only show support for online safety measures but demand for them. This is the Irish public sending a clear message to Government that they expect them to stand up to big tech and create laws that will ensure a safer online environment for themselves, for their children and for society as a whole. It is a damning reflection of the motivations behind big tech companies when 9 out of 10 people agree that increasing profits is more important to these companies than making their services safer for the people who use them.”

Key Findings

Support for more regulation:

  • 91% of the public think the Government should stand up to the big tech companies and set rules that protect the public from harmful or illegal use
  • 86% agree that major tech companies have too much power and influence over politics and law
  • 81% agree that the Government is too frightened of big tech companies to make effective laws to control them
  • 70% of the public think that the Government should introduce laws that hold social media companies responsible for content they allow on their platforms

“This research may only be the top of the iceberg when it comes to the reality of Irish people’s experience engaging with online platforms and services,” continued Tanya Ward. Here we see over a half of respondents directly or indirectly affected by harmful use of online or social media. One in five reporting that they have been directly affected. With trust in legislation as an effective way to ensure platforms are held accountable, it is a clear opportunity for the Government’s Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill which is due for publication this term. However, if the Bill is to live up to its name, it must include specific provisions for an Online Safety Commissioner with the ability and support to take swift action and a public complaints mechanism so people, particularly children and young people, do not have to place all their faith in the platforms to perform.”

Support for an Online Safety Commissioner:

  • 78% believe it is important the Online Safety Commissioner would have the power to have content or accounts removed enforced by the courts
  • 77% think an Online Safety Commissioner should have the power in law to investigate complaints made by members of the public when social media companies fail to uphold the rights of the person.
  • 69% believe it is important for the Online Safety Commissioner to have a public educational role

“The overwhelming support for an Online Safety Commissioner is welcome news to the campaign but what is more telling is the desire for any Online Safety Commissioner to have real and robust powers to hold online platforms and services to account,” commented Ian Power, CEO of “The 1,2,3 Online Safety Campaign is calling for an Online Safety Commissioner with the ability and resources to enforce strict and timely takedown orders for content that does not meet a safety threshold. With almost 4 in 5 people believing that the Commissioner should be backed up by the Courts, it is clear that the public want little to no wriggle room for online platforms when it comes to compliance with high standards of safety for those who use their service. For those of us concerned with the harms children and young people are exposed to online, legislating for robust powers for an Online Safety Commissioner and resourcing their office is the only way to get a handle on the issue.”

Support for an individual complaints mechanism:

  • 76% believe that it is important that an online safety commission offers an accessible and free complaints process for members of the public who have experienced harmful use of online or social media

“The magnifying glass needs to be put on the platforms and online services here and how effective their own community standards or complaints processes really are for children and young people. Through Childline, we consistently hear about just how consuming negative online experiences can be for children. It is critically important that government legislation in this area provides a way for children to seek redress,” said John Church, Chief Executive of the ISPCC. “It is great to see the level of public support for an Online Safety Commissioner with an accessible complaints mechanism for individuals to use when platforms do not provide for effective or efficient resolutions for young people experiencing issues online. At the moment, this type of complaints mechanism is not included in the Government’s draft legislation. These research findings show that this omission warrants a second look.”


Contact: Emma Archbold Children’s Rights Alliance, Tel: 01-662 9400 / 0879971410, Email:

Notes to Editor:

  • Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for interview.
  • Ian Power, CEO of is available for interview.
  • John Church, Chief Executive of the ISPCC is available for interview.
  • Other members of the campaign may be available for interview upon request.
  • N=12 question units were asked in the Opinions September Online omnibus to a nationally representative sample of n=1,003 adults aged 18+ in the Rep. of Ireland.The survey was conducted between the 17th –28th September 2021.
  • The #123OnlineSafety national campaign is co-ordinated by the Children’s Rights Alliance which sees 16 member organisations leading in online safety, digital rights and youth participation unite to push for critical changes in the area. Members include Alcohol Action Ireland, Barretstown, Barnardos, BeLonG To, CyberSafeKids, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Foróige, Irish Heart Foundation, ISPCC, National Youth Council of Ireland, One in Four, Psychological Society of Ireland, Rape Crisis Network Ireland, Scouting Ireland, and Young Social Innovators. The campaign is supported by The Community Foundation for Ireland via The RTÉ does Comic Relief Fund #RTEComicRelief

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