Dublin riots: No evidence Irish language used to dodge social media moderators, says European Commission

Official had said a lot of content was posted in Irish and that ‘those spreading hatred, illegal and harmful content, exploit the lack of Gaelic-speaking moderators’

There is currently no evidence that the Irish language was used to avoid the prospect of censorship by content moderators on online platforms during the Dublin riots, but the matter is under investigation, a spokesman for the European Commission has said.

It comes after a commission official told The Irish Times and RTÉ that “a lot of such content” was posted in Irish and that “those spreading hatred, illegal and harmful content, exploit the lack of Gaelic-speaking moderators”.

However, the commission’s spokesman for digital issues, Johannes Bahrke, said in an interview with Morning Ireland on Friday that while this issue was being investigated, it had not yet been proven.

“There is no evidence as such that this actually happened, but this is something that it is currently being looked into,” Mr Bahrke said.


“But the point is more that there is a vulnerability that you, of course, create as a platform if you have only one person who actually speaks that language,” he continued.

“It’s not only language knowledge, it’s also a question of knowing the cultural context in order to be effective as a content moderator.”

The commission has pointed to the lack of Irish-language moderators on some social media platforms as an issue, stressing that under stringent new Digital Services Act (DSA) EU legislation, such companies are required to take down illegal content.

There is a “striking difference” in preparedness between different social media platforms, Mr Bahrke said.

The commission got involved with outreach to social media companies on the evening that rioting broke out in Dublin, after three children and a school worker were stabbed in an attack in the city centre. Meetings on the issue were held the next day.

As online posts about events in Dublin spread rapidly, Irish authorities triggered a new alert system established by the DSA laws, pulling in the help of commission officials to ensure social media companies were adequately moderating content – the first time the procedure had been used.

Gardaí are investigating social media posts to see whether they were used to incite violence, as calls to gather in the city centre in response to the stabbing went viral in the wake of the attack.

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times