Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



In Ireland, since 1939, the Offences Against the State Act (OAS) has served as the primary vehicle for confronting political violence. How effective is it in light of new media and the novel types of threats that it poses? Terrorist recruitment is just the tip of the iceberg. Social networking sites allow for targeted and global fundraising, international direction and control, anonymous power structures, and access to critical expertise. The platform can create the oceans within which extreme ideologies can prosper—and it can do so, targeting individuals likely to be sympathetic to the cause, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ad infinitum. It is an alternative reality, subject to factual manipulation and direction—a problem exacerbated by the risk of so-called deep fakes: autonomously-generated content that makes it appear that people acted, or that certain circumstances occurred, which never did.

In November 2019 the Irish Government approved new regulations for social media platforms. To ensure election integrity, the new measure targets political advertising and tries to ensure that voters have access to accurate information. These provisions do not address the myriad further political risks posed by new media. This chapter, accordingly, focuses on ways in which the Offences Against the State Act (OAS) and related laws have historically treated free expression as a prelude to understanding how and whether the existing provisions are adequate for the types of challenges brought by new media.

Publication Citation

Laura K. Donohue, New Media, Free Expression, and the Offences Against the State Acts (March 12, 2020)