Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Timmy Dooley is calling on Facebook to clarify that they are not engaging in partisan and preferential treatment of Government Ministers and advisors.
Deputy Dooley was commenting after it emerged that a number of Government Ministers and their advisors were invited to Facebook HQ in Dublin to receive training, analysis and advice on how to best engage with their constituents.
“Facebook has in the past reached out to all political parties in this State to provide advice and support, but this is the first time I have seen them engage in what is clearly partisan political engagement with Government Ministers and their advisors.
“As the lead Opposition Spokesperson on Communications, I have yet to receive similar invitation to Facebook HQ to receive advice on engaging with my constituents.
“The training being received will be used by these Ministers and their party in the course of the next General Election. We saw in the last US Presidential Election and this year’s UK General Election how powerful social media can be in mobilising political support.
“The fact that Facebook are apparently picking sides so to speak and providing, for all intents and purposes, a leg up to one political party over others is simply mind boggling.
“However, how no one in Government thought that this preferential treatment was beyond the Pale is even worse in my opinion.
“We have, in general, a very healthy democracy in Ireland where the power of lobbyists is limited and quite transparent.
“Facebook should not be engaging in partisan training sessions by favouring Government Ministers over Opposition politicians.
“It’s bad enough having an internal party political spin team in the form of the Strategic Communications Unit, but to have external corporations potentially aiding and abetting this government is simply not on. Facebook must offer this training to all or to none, and clarify that they are not favouring the Government over the opposition,” concluded Dooley.