The lack of Irish-language moderation on European social media constitutes a security "vulnerability", the bloc's self-appointed "digital enforcer", Thierry Breton, has claimed. (EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK)


Lack of Irish-language moderators on social media a ‘vulnerability’, Breton says


The lack of Irish-language moderation regarding European social media constitutes a security “vulnerability”, the bloc’s self-appointed “digital enforcer” Thierry Breton warned.

His claims came after it was leaked last year that European Union officials were concerned at the lack of moderators who speak the Gaeltacht language – classified as “definitely endangered” by UNESCO – working for Big Tech firms in the bloc.

Leaks indicated that both EU and Irish politicians last year expressed concern that dissidents used it to help organise riots in the country’s capital, despite the falling number of people who speak Gaeltacht fluently.

According to An Phríomh-Oifig Staidrimh, the Irish Central Statistics Office, the total number of people, from three-years-old and above, who could speak Irish in April 2016 was 1,761,420, representing 39.8 per cent of the population. That was a decline of some 13,000 since 2011.

Occurring in response to an alleged migrant stabbing that took place in Dublin city centre, the riots last year made headlines worldwide, with many politicians in part blaming “hate-speech” and online “disinformation” for the violence.

Breton has now confirmed that European officials are concerned at the role the Irish language might have played in helping to co-ordinate the unrest online. He said the alleged failure of social media platforms to hire moderators who can speak the language was raised during a meeting with tech firms.

“These focused on the actions taken to curb the spread of illegal content linked to the riots,” Breton said, arguing that the “failure” of many companies to do so could constitute a violation of the EU Digital Services Act.

He added that the European Commission also “reminded platforms of their obligations under the DSA” and that it “pointed to the lack of Irish-language moderators on some of the platforms as a point of vulnerability”.

“The Commission is currently looking into the qualification of platforms’ human resources and its impact on adequate content moderation,” Breton said.

While such an examination was still “ongoing”, he concluded, the body had already formally launched an investigation into Elon Musk’s X platform.