Kriégel case: Facebook and Twitter summoned to court over photos

DPP says social media firms responsible for sharing of images of convicted teenagers

Social media companies have been removing images that purport to identify the boys convicted of murdering schoolgirl Ana Kriégel from their platforms.

Social media companies have been removing images that purport to identify the boys convicted of murdering schoolgirl Ana Kriégel from their platforms.

 

Social media companies came under pressure yesterday over the uploading and sharing of photographs on their platforms purporting to identify the two boys convicted of murdering Ana Kriégel.

Following an unprecedented move by Mr Justice Michael White, representatives of Twitter and Facebook were summoned to the Central Criminal Court to answer contempt of court proceedings arising from the publications.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) yesterday submitted to the judge that the companies are responsible for the sharing of photographs of the 14-year-olds, known as Boy A and Boy B, during their trial.

The publication of the identities of child offenders is a criminal offence punishable on conviction with up to three years in prison and a €10,000 fine.

However, photographs purported to be of the boys have circulated widely on social media and on WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, alongside captions identifying them as Ana’s murderers since their convictions on Tuesday.

Brendan Grehan SC, for the DPP, said in court that some of the people sharing the images on social media appeared to be aware they were breaking the law.

‘Trenchant’

Mr Justice White ordered Facebook and Twitter to remove any such posts from their sites and issued a “trenchant warning” to anyone seeking to identify the boys. He said any offenders would be “treated in the most serious fashion”.

Facebook said it had removed content purporting to identify the boys and used photo-matching technology in an attempt to prevent this content from being shared again. “We will continue to remove this content from our platforms.”

A spokeswoman for Twitter said: “We have an established line of communication with An Garda Síochána and are in direct contact with them on this issue.”

It is understood the Garda has received a number of complaints relating to the public identification of the boys and the force’s press office issued a reminder of the penalties for breaking the law to media outlets.

A Garda spokesman said any such incidents would be investigated. Sources said the DPP wanted to take legal action against anyone it could identify as having shared the material in the hope this would discourage others from doing so.

During the trial, evidence was heard of thousands of pornographic images and internet searches for “child porn” and “animal porn” being found on the phone of Boy A. Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he planned to hold discussions with his British counterpart in relation to new laws being introduced in the UK which block children from having access to online pornography.