Tumblr takes High Court action against Ireland’s media regulator

Second technology giant to take judicial review against Coimisiún na Meán after being designated a ‘video-sharing platform’

US microblogging site Tumblr has told the High Court it is challenging its inclusion in a list of 10 “video-sharing platforms” to be regulated under a new online safety code.

It is the second judicial review case issued against Coimisiún na Meán, with San Francisco-based social media company Reddit having initiated a similar action against the body earlier this month.

The legal actions come a number of weeks after the regulator designated 10 mainly American social media groups as “video-sharing platforms” to be regulated under the code, which aims to place responsibility for safe online activity on the providers engaged in facilitating the sharing of video content.

The other designated platforms are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Udemy, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit and X, formerly Twitter.


Under the code, there will be potential fines of up to €20 million against platforms that violate child safety. The regime seeks to tackle harmful content, cyber bullying, or posts promoting suicide, self-harm or eating disorders.

Emily Egan McGrath SC, instructed by Mason Hayes & Curran, for Tumblr, on Wednesday asked the High Court to record that her client’s case has been brought within the statutory time limit for appealing the commission’s December 28th decision. She said Tumblr was informed about the update the next day.

Ms Justice Niamh Hyland said she would “stop time” from running against the plaintiff and adjourned the case to February 26th. The commission was not represented in court for the brief application.

Asked about the legal action, a spokesman for Coimisiún na Meán said: “We don’t wish to comment on matters which are before the courts.”

Tumblr was founded in February 2007, has 592 million blogs and 135 million monthly active users, according to its website. It is based in New York, and owned by American company Automattic.

Automattic, which was founded by tech entrepreneur Matt Mullenweg, operates all of its blogging operations outside of the US through a company registered in Dublin, Aut O’Mattic A8C Ireland. The Irish arm recorded a loss of €17.1 million in 2022, according to its most recently filed accounts.

A spokeswoman for Tumblr said the company respects the commission’s work and role in online safety but that it initiated the action as it does not consider itself a video platform.

“Users come to us for lots of great content (memes! fandom!), but video is a very small part of Tumblr. We do not believe that we belong in the same category as video platforms like YouTube or TikTok. Our size, content, and the types of risks we guard against on our platforms are very different,” she said.

Coimisiún na Meán’s draft code of conduct, which is still subject to finalisation, requires platforms to use robust age verification technology to ensure children are not exposed to inappropriate content. The platforms may have to seek passports or other official documentary proof of age, as well as live selfies for verification.

Platforms will also be required to give parents tools to ensure children do not encounter illegal or harmful content online. Furthermore, they will be required to prevent the uploading or sharing of illegal content such as videos inciting viewers to hatred or violence.

A finalised code will form part of Ireland’s overall online safety framework based on the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022, the EU Digital Services Act and the EU Terrorist Content Online Regulation.

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Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter