Gardai urge social media users not to tag them in tweets of alleged wrongdoing

For all its good points, social media has a potent dark side that is really only coming to light as the years go on. We know over-use is linked to depression, that even with constant connection we are now lonelier than ever before. Privacy is scarce in the online world. And though social media can assist in exposing information some might wrongly try to keep hidden, it can also aid destruction and add to the suffering of others.

A case in point would be the harrowing accident that occurred on the M50 last week, tragically claiming the life of a young woman. There was outcry after distressing imagery of the immediate aftermath of the crash was circulated on social media. "This week alone, family and friends who have to come to terms with the loss of a loved one should not have to hear that voyeurs are sending images through WhatsApp," said Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy.

Related: 2019's road death toll rises as four men in their 20s are killed in Donegal

"We must have modern rules and regulations for social media that respect human decency and the privacy of other individuals."

Another example would be that one wrong accusation in a post gone viral can see you tarnished forever - regardless of innocence proven.

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“Everyone is entitled to their good name”

To this end, gardai have warned social media users not to tag them on Twitter when posting images or videos of alleged wrongdoings. The Garda Twitter account has recently been instructing users to remove footage of incidents that identify cars or drivers, claiming that such videos could damage a person’s good name - and may jeopardise future court cases.

Recently they responded to an individual who shared headcam footage of a cyclist revealing a driver’s registration and said social media wasn't the appropriate place to do so.

“Everyone is entitled to their good name,” the An Garda Siochana account Tweeted.

"Social media is not the appropriate forum for deciding whether or not someone is guilty of any offence. This is a matter for the court," a spokesperson told the Irish Independent. 

“While we do use our social media accounts to highlight incidents and to promote road safety, we take steps to ensure that the people involved cannot be identified. We find social media to be a positive tool in the area of highlighting traffic related issues.”

"Anyone who wishes to report an incident and has a video of the occurrence should contact Traffic Watch or their local Garda Station. All reports received by Gardai will be fully investigated," they added.

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