Majority of Irish people want stricter social media regulations

Most Irish people also think that social media algorithms should stop profiling people based on factors like their sexual desires and political views.

Photo of hand holding a phone with social media apps, which the Irish public wants to see more regulated, on the screen, with a dark background.
Image: Via Pexels - Magnus Mueller

New research shows that almost three-quarters of the Irish population want social media algorithms to be regulated more strictly. Moreover, the vast majority believe that the algorithms should stop profiling people based on their sexual desires, political and religious views, health conditions or ethnicity.

Commissioned by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Uplit, the new research was conducted by Ireland Thinks, who surveyed a representative sample of 1,270 people of different ages, incomes, educational backgrounds and regions across the country. The survey found that 74% of Irish people approve of stricter regulations for social media algorithms, which select content that users find in their online feeds.

Moreover, findings show that 82% of people in Ireland are in favour of forcing social media companies to stop automatically gathering data about users’ sexual desires, political and religious views, health conditions or ethnicity and using it to select their content.

These findings come as Coimisiún na Meán, Ireland’s media regulator, published its draft Online Safety Code, proposing that social media platforms should turn off their “recommender systems” based on profiling by default. Such “recommender systems” determine what users see on their feeds based on personal data obtained through their search history, past purchases, age, location, etc.

These systems have been found to promote suicide and self-loathing among teens, drive children to online addictions and also promote hate and extremism. According to Meta’s own internal research, “64% of all extremist group joins are due to our recommendation tools… Our recommendation systems grow the problem.”


As the ICCL explained, the recommender systems select emotive and extreme content and show it to people who, based on gathered data, are estimated to be more likely to be outraged. This outrage leads people to spend more time on the platform, allowing the company to make more profit by showing ads.

Siobhan O’Donoghue of Uplift said that recommender systems are amplifying hate speech and weaponising fault lines within communities. “It is time social media corporations be made to give users real control over what they see, and be held to account for failing to do so,” O’Donoghue added.

“Social media was supposed to bring us together. Instead, it tears us apart,” said Johnny Ryan, a Senior Fellow at ICCL. “Users, not Big Tech’s algorithms, should have the freedom to decide what they see and share online. These findings show that the vast majority of the Irish public do not want toxic algorithms interfering in their online lives.”


The research comes as Human Rights Watch launched a new campaign titled #SecureOurSocials, calling on Meta to show accountability and better protect its LGBTQ+ users from online abuse. The organisation noted that, while Facebook and Instagram are very quick to shut down posts or accounts that openly support Palestine or show human rights abuses, they often allow anti-LGBTQ+ content that violates their own company’s policies to remain on the platforms.

The #SecureOurSocials campaign is based on research conducted by a number of human rights organisations, which found that online abuse directed towards LGBTQ+ people often has “far-reaching offline consequences”. Commenting on the campaign launch, LGBT Rights Deputy Director at Human Rights Watch, Rasha Younes, said: “As the largest social media company in the world, Meta should be a global leader in making social media safe for everyone.”

“When LGBT people, who already face insecurity offline, use Facebook and Instagram for connection and organising, they deserve certainty that Meta is doing everything in its power to ensure their security,” Younes said.

© 2024 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.