SDLP East Derry Assembly candidate Cara Hunter has said social media companies must act to keep young people safe online.
She was speaking after a Facebook page which posted pictures of schoolgirls from the North was removed.
Ms Hunter said social media companies needed to improve their monitoring of harmful and illegal behaviours and said more education was required for young people around staying safe online.
East Derry candidate Ms Hunter said:
“While I am glad this vile page has now been removed from Facebook, serious questions need to be asked about how it was allowed to remain unhindered for so long. It’s extremely worrying that police said the page was not committing any criminal offence, despite the clear intent of people posting pictures of young girls on this page.
“The internet and its impact on our way of life is changing all the time and we need to adapt our laws to catch up to this. That pages like this were able to operate in the open for some time shows that there is a problem and we need to identify exactly what needs to be done to fix it.
“Social media companies have a responsibility to people using their platform and they have been allowed to pass the buck on safety and security issues for too long. We have long been calling for greater online regulation and to stop people from being able to hide behind anonymous accounts but progress has been glacial.
“I’d like to extend my solidarity to everyone who has been affected by this page, I can only imagine the impact it will have on the young girls caught up in this who became targets as a result of innocently posting images on their Facebook page. Society needs to do better to protect women and girls, social media companies have a duty of care and if they are unwilling to step up to the plate then we need legislation that introduces online protections to prevent things like this from happening again.”