Northern Ireland news

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg faces questions about Tyrone teenager Ronan Hughes

Ronan Hughes died by suicide in 2015
Connla Young

The tragic case of a Co Tyrone teenager who took his own life after being blackmailed online was raised with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg when he appeared before members of the European Parliament yesterday.

Ronan Hughes (17) from Clonoe, outside Coalisland, died by suicide in 2015 after being tricked into sharing intimate images of himself online.

He took his own life hours after some of the pictures were sent to his friends when he did not pay a ransom.

A man was later sentenced to four years in prison in Romania after pleading guilty to charges of blackmail, as well as producing and distributing indecent images of a child.

The case was raised by the DUP’s Diane Dodds when Mr Zuckerberg appeared before European Parliament’ political group leaders.

During the meeting the MEP referred to the teenager and said he was a victims of a “false Facebook account from online bullies who persuaded him to send an intimate photograph of himself and then asked for £3,000 in return for not posting this on his Facebook account”.

She said the teenager’s family “have been incredibly brave in publicising this case and dealing with this situation”.

She added: “I would like you to tell us what you are doing to stop the rise of false Facebook accounts which deliberately target young and vulnerable people?”

Mr Zuckerg answered a series of questions collectively at the end of the session. He did not directly address the question about Ronan Hughes but told the politicians he would “follow up with each of you."

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