In Delfi AS v Estonia (2013 ECtHR) a post on a news portal online garnered hateful and defamatory comments from an anonymous user: International Human Rights Law Assignment, UCC, Ireland

Case Law:
In Delfi AS v Estonia (2013 ECtHR) a post on a news portal online garnered hateful and
defamatory comments from an anonymous user. Delfi had failed to take down the comments
in a reasonable amount of time. The comments were left on the site for six weeks before they
were taken down. While the Court did not find Delfi to be entirely negligent, it found Delfi’s
action to be inadequate. The fact that the site allowed anonymous comments should have been enough reason for Delfi to put in place more stringent measures.

Too much freedom of expression in today’s society?

With the rise of the Internet and countless social media platforms, there may be a risk that there is too much freedom of expression. The Internet Service Providers’ Association of Ireland represents Ireland’s internet service providers (e.g. Sky, Vodafone, Eir) which are selfregulatory and are overseen by the Department of Justice and Equality. Social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok have their own policies and community standards in relation to preventing the incitement of hate, terrorism and bullying. However, such content could be posted publicly online for hours before it is taken down, meaning hundreds if not thousands could have already seen it and reposted it, some of them, children. Even if the original post is taken down, it may still resurface in obscure sites in the “dark web”. Essentially, once content has been published online, it remains on the Internet indefinitely, making it more harmful than traditional printed or broadcast media.

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In recent months, ‘TikTok challenges’ have led to the death of children. One of such challengesb is the ‘blackout challenge’ which encouraged users to choke themselves until they black out. Two girls in the US have died from doing this challenge. Another case is the ‘milk crate challenge’ which encouraged users to stack as many milk crates as they could and jump off them. This has led to many young people dislocating their shoulders and knees, and some injuring their spinal cord. These are two of the many TikTok challenges that appear on users’ feeds. The algorithm element of social media platforms is problematic as it is done through artificial intelligence, therefore not regulated

The proliferation of ‘fake news’ online is also an issue that we are faced with. It is especially
worrying amongst the younger generations. In a recent study conducted by The Office of
Communications (Ofcom) in the UK, it was found that children as young as 3 years old use
video-streaming platforms such as Youtube and TikTok. What is even more concerning is that
even in older children (12-17), most are unable to distinguish between fake and genuine
information online.

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