Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science, Technology, Research and Development, James Lawless, has said that social media giants need to take responsibility for the videos posted on their platforms in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

His calls come as videos showing young people licking their hands and rubbing them on door handles and along park benches have been circulated widely on social media. There have been other videos of young people coughing or spitting at other people as part of a ‘corona challenge’.

Deputy Lawless said that content moderation guidelines would have to be enhanced to ensure that these videos were removed immediately.

Deputy Lawless explained, “Content moderation involves monitoring and applying a pre-determined set of rules and guidelines to user-generated posts online. These pre-determined rules and guidelines, which more often than not apply to abuse, threatening behaviour or nudity online, may need updating so that they cover reckless videos of people attempting to spread the coronavirus.

“I spoke with a representative from the social media platform, Tik Tok, who informed me that the platform does not allow videos that encourage, promote, or glorify dangerous challenges. She informed me that her team are working on a range of initiatives to promote a healthy conversation about Covid-19.

“All social media giants need to play their part and redouble efforts to ensure these idiotic ‘challenges’ are not magnified,” he concluded.