US tech billionaire Elon Musk’s X social media platform has accused Ireland’s justice minister Helen McEntee of making “inaccurate” statements in the Irish Parliament regarding recent online censorship requests.
Irish officials have attempted to shift blame for recent anti-migration rioting in the capital Dublin to social media firms. Many have claimed the violence in the wake of a reported migrant’s stabbing of three children on November 23 was fuelled by posts online.
Speaking in the Dáil Éireann, or lower house of Parliament, McEntee alleged that while Meta, the owner of Instagram and Facebook, as well as TikTok, were responding to the Irish State’s requests to censor certain content, Musk’s X was not.
This is inaccurate. We have proactively taken action on more than 1,230 pieces of content under our rules relating to the riots.
We met with the Coimisiún na Meán on November 24 to discuss our response. The Gardai did not make any formal requests to us until late Monday 27th… https://t.co/nHGMDg45Mu
— Global Government Affairs (@GlobalAffairs) December 4, 2023
X roundly rejected the accusations, with the platform’s Global Government Affairs account stating it had actively engaged with Ireland’s police force during the rioting.
“We have proactively taken action on more than 1,230 pieces of content under our rules relating to the riots,” the platform claimed, describing McEntee’s statements as “inaccurate”.
It also alleged that Irish police requests for content to be taken down from the site were not sent to the social media giant until November 27.
“The only appeal we have received from the Gardai [Irish police] relating to the enforcement of our rules is for a single post,” X added.
“We hope the minister will clarify her remarks.”
The European Commission urged social media platforms to censor posts during the riots in Ireland last week sparked by the stabbing of three children.
Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee has accused X of allowing content that "fuelled … what happened". https://t.co/QeVvO63EHp
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) December 1, 2023
The social media giant’s harsh rebuttal of McEntee represents the latest skirmish in a growing conflict between Musk and X, and the Irish Government.
The feud appeared to begin shortly after Musk’s takeover of what was then known as Twitter. It came about as Ireland’s largely ceremonial President Michael Higgins had been repeatedly berating the billionaire for not wanting to censor the internet.
Musk bit back amid attempts by the Irish Government to pass a controversial hate-speech bill, with the proposal likely to make the possession of memes deemed “hate speech” illegal, among other things.
While Musk has mainly targeted Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in his criticism, it has largely been McEntee who has felt the pressure of international scrutiny.
Many Irish Government senators appear to be in open revolt against her over her push to implement the hate-speech legislation.
The riots in Dublin last month have further jeopardised her position. Two major opposition parties in the country, Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats, are demanding that she now resign her position.
McEntee is to face a motion of no confidence in Parliament on December 5, although she is expected to comfortably survive the vote with the backing of the whips of the ruling coalition.
The end could be nigh for Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee's political career with politicians from across the country’s political spectrum calling for her resignation over Thursday's child stabbings in Dublin. https://t.co/5l6lM3WjMD
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) November 24, 2023