Cross-Party Oireachtas Member demand increased transparency from Facebook

Cross-Party Letter To Facebook
Cross-Party Letter To Facebook

A Cross-party group of Senators and TDs wrote to Facebook Ireland to request that the social media platform roll-out their new transparency features in Ireland in advance of the referendum on the 8th amendment on May 25th.

Dear Mr. Lambe,

In light of the upcoming referendum on the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution, we are writing to request that Facebook immediately roll out its recently developed transparency features on political advertising.

Recent months have seen escalating revelations on the extent to which social media platforms such as Facebook have served to facilitate inappropriate intervention in the democratic process. It is clear that greatly strengthened legislative and regulatory oversight is needed and that is something we as legislators are committed to delivering. However, we note that Facebook has also committed to urgently revise and improve its own processes. At the US Senate hearing earlier this week Mr Zuckerberg stated that his priority for 2018 is to prevent interference in five national elections taking place this year. The forthcoming referendum in Ireland must be afforded equal priority. 

This referendum should not become another bad example of inappropriate intervention in the political process but should instead serve as an opportunity to pilot new and better standards.  It is imperative that Facebook guarantee transparency around any political advertisements targeted at Irish voters between now and May 25th, including transparency around the persons or organisations paying for the promotion of such content.

We look forward to your response and hope you will be able to deliver the assurances and accelerated action that we seek.

Yours Sincerely,

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, Senator Colette Kelleher, Senator Lynn Ruane - Civil Engagement Group
Senator Grace O'Sullivan, Deputy Eamon Ryan - The Green Party
Deputy Catherine Murphy - Social Democrats

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Ireland is starting late on climate action and it should be starting stronger. Here are some important challenges, gaps and concerns which will need further attention and action in the months ahead.

Limitation of liability: This problematic clause limits compensation for citizens hurt by climate inaction at the same time as the Government want to introduce new liabilities/compensation for corporations under the Investor Court System/CETA with chill effect. It's more important than ever to stop the ratification of CETA.

Climate Justice: I am glad that the Government removed a weak and damaging definition of climate justice but am disappointed they did not replace it with the strong one as proposed by NGOs and Senators. Government must now prove sincerity on this through concrete global solidarity action for example at COP26 and through funding.

Just Transition: "There are also people involved in just transition who have been ahead of us." A strong Just Transition definition is not included in the legislation. The Government will need to place communities, trade unions and others at centre of Just Transition for a ground up approach to climate action.

SDGs: Ireland played key role in negotiating the UN Sustainable Development Goals yet the Government rejected any amendments to include them in Climate Bill. The SDGs are not aspirational or optional they must be recognised as crucial blueprint for how we survive together on this fragile planet. 

Market forces: "If we try to fit climate action into stock market model, we will fail and the world will burn". The Minister's economic framing doesn’t recognise that, as with housing, speculation is a problem not a solution and we can’t afford that. 

2030 Target:”51% should be the floor not the ceiling”. Unfortunately the Government rejected my amendment to insert ‘at least’ before ‘51%’ which would have given the Climate Change Advisory Council flexibility to propose more ambitious budgets. Many scientists also have concerns regarding how the 51% target may be calculated.

Oil and Gas: The Climate Bill still allows the Minister to grant NEW licenses and leases for fossil fuel extraction, for example where there has been previous exploration licence. This actively undermines the aim of Bill and may be motivated by fear of litigation through the Energy Charter Treaty. Ireland needs to stop digging!