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Connacht Tribune

Facebook finds itself in the firing line – and stuck on the back foot

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Deputies Eamon Ryan and Hildegarde Naughton during the international discussion on social media regulation in Westminster this week.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

I used Facebook for about two months when it first started to become a ‘thing’ in 2008 and then stopped. I have never used it since.  I’m sure I have missed out on a few stories by not having an account; Leo Varadkar posts his video each week on the platform. But mostly, I can get the relevant information from the home page without having to sign up.

That said, I have to declare that I use Twitter regularly. Then there is Google and Apple. I use Gmail, Google docs, Google search and Google storage, as well as Google maps. Ditto for Apple – all I’m missing from both is a wedding ring.

Where it has become sinister is when companies start to share your data with others unbeknownst to you. They will argue that you give consent… but the consent was often a needle hidden inside a haystack of small print.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed the degree to the volume of data that is held by these multinational companies and how they have been manipulated for what is, in reality, nefarious activities.

Then you get the thousands of false automated accounts (bots) set up by the Russian intelligence services to interfere with the American presidential elections and other key events.

Such activity also impacted on the Brexit referendum and may also have had an effect on the abortion referendum in Ireland earlier this year until both Facebook and Google decided to cull all advertising on the referendum (on the basis presumably of avoiding further negative publicity).

Facebook’s European headquarters is in Ireland and it has many thousands of employees here. Because it is based here, it is the Irish data Protection Commission which was responsible for policing such things. It was not very successful in that regard.

Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the disclosure of thousands of false Russian accounts on Facebook, the multinational technology company has been on the back foot.

The latest scandal was that it hired a Washington PR firm that essentially spread negative stories about is rivals and critics, including Apple and financier George Soros.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Boil water notice issued for Barna area

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A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes

The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.

The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.

The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.

Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.

Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.

Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.

In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.

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Connacht Tribune

Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised

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Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.

A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.

Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.

Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.

Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.

He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .

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Connacht Tribune

Anger over ANC ‘snip’

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Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue

ANGRY farmers hit out during last week’s Galway IFA at the Dept. of Agriculture over what they described as their ‘heavy handed tactics’ in docking BEAM penalties from ANC payments made last week.

Although Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, has apologised for the actions taken by his Department officials, delegates who attended last Thursday’s night county IFA meeting in the Claregalway Hotel, hit out at what happened.

In some cases, according to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, farmers who had already paid back the BEAM penalty also had the money deducted from their ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments made last week.

Many farmers received ‘a shock in the post’ when their ANC payments were hit with the deductions of penalties from the BEAM scheme – earlier they had been warned of interest penalties if any balances weren’t repaid within 30 days.

At the core of the problem was the inclusion of a 5% stock numbers reduction in the BEAM scheme (Beef Exceptional Aid Measure) aimed at helping to compensate farmers for a drop-off in beef prices between September, 2018 and May, 2019.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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