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private group Prison guards' Facebook group sparks fears for privacy after video shared of inmate with ‘leash’ around neck

The Irish Prison Service has asked Facebook to review the controversial group.

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Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn

THE Irish Prison Service has told of its fears for the "privacy of people in our custody" over a Facebook group for serving and former officers.

It has asked Facebook to review the controversial group.

Emails to the social media giant reveal how the Irish Prison Service (IPS) flagged three offensive posts and a video upload from the page 'Irish Jailers, Warders, and Buckets'.

Facebook said it appeared as if some of the offending posts had been removed but that one - which made a reference to Travellers - did not "violate [Facebook] community standards".

The IPS also flagged footage, which is understood to have been filmed inside Mountjoy Prison, that appeared on the group.

An email to Facebook said: "It is also alleged that a video that appears to be shot within an Irish prison has been uploaded to the page and apparently shows a prisoner in a cell with some sort of 'leash' around his neck.

"I would be grateful for a review of these posts as they also pose a potential risk to the privacy of people in our custody," said the email, which was sent on February 19.

In response, Facebook sought precise web addresses for the offending posts - but the IPS was not in a position to provide them, having never had direct access to the group.

In follow-up emails, the IPS asked if there had been any review or deletion of the offensive material.

They also sought to escalate the inquiry saying: "As this appears to be a breach of the statutory rules under which our officers serve, can you please advise on the process for the IPS to obtain a copy of the posts and material to assist any possible investigation that may be necessary."

In response, Facebook said it was still reviewing the page and that formal legal queries would need to be made through separate channels.

Two days later, the social media company sent an update to say that the second of the three reported posts - an offensive comment about immigrants - had been removed.

Violate

Its email said: "[Our team] were unable to locate the first post (which may mean that it has since been removed by a user). They are re-examining the third post against our policies and I will revert with an update shortly."

Later that day, Facebook said the third post would not be removed.

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An email said: "Our teams concluded their review of the third post and they found that it did not violate our community standards."

The IPS then asked for any update on the 'leash' video.

A response from Facebook said: "Re the video - our teams have been unable to locate it within the group."

On March 3, the IPS again contacted Facebook saying it planned to prepare a report for the Justice Minister.

It was their understanding that the page had been removed, said an email.

"Is it possible for you to confirm that the pages have been removed? If so, can you please advise if Facebook instigated this removal?"

Facebook said, however, the group was still active - and just the privacy settings had been changed, meaning only that it no longer appeared when searched for.

A spokesman for the IPS said: "On becoming aware of the content posted on this private Facebook page, which in no way reflect the views of the organisation, the Irish Prison Service again reported the matter to Facebook.

"Any issues arising in respect of staff and their conduct in the Irish Prison Service will be dealt with through the normal disciplinary process."

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