Digital media outlets need to do more to fight conspiracy theories, says Simon Coveney 1 month ago

Digital media outlets need to do more to fight conspiracy theories, says Simon Coveney

His comments come after last weekend's anti-lockdown protests.

Digital media outlets should be doing more to combat conspiracy theories and prevent their platforms being used to undermine public health efforts, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said.

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At the weekend, three gardaí were injured with one hospitalised after an anti-lockdown protest that took place in Dublin City Centre.

23 arrests were made following attempts to move the protestors on.

Following the controversial events, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar is set to write to digital media companies to raise concerns over their platforms being used to plan gatherings that go against public health laws.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast on Monday morning, Coveney said he believes these "extraordinarily powerful organisations" need to do more in a number of areas, including not allowing their platforms to be used to facilitate efforts to undermine the State and create public health risks.

He stated digital media companies have a responsibility and that the Government must work with them to ensure they are following through on that duty.

While admitting politicians can make mistakes, he said the Irish government is "trying to tell people the truth" and protect the public from Covid-19.

He said: “Some of the conspiracy theories that are being used to inspire hatred and anger and division, that drove the motivation behind the kind of thuggery that we saw over the weekend that the Gardaí had to handle in a professional manner – but in really difficult circumstances – we've got to call that out for what it is.

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“These are people who are trying to recruit, sometimes vulnerable people, but people who are struggling with the pandemic because their businesses are not open.

"They may be stressed, many people are. This has been a very, very difficult year for so many people but we have got to close this out now in the next few months."

In more positive news, the Minister for Foreign Affairs also said that by the middle of the summer, the vast majority of people who want to be vaccinated against Covid-19 will have received their jab.