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GAA tells clubs not to communicate via WhatsApp over 'unsuitable material' concerns

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The GAA has advised members to stop using WhatsApp

The GAA has advised members to stop using WhatsApp

PA Archive/Press Association Images

The GAA has advised members to stop using WhatsApp

The GAA has told clubs they should not use WhatsApp to communicate with players because of age and GDPR concerns.

The organisation has said it is concerned about what it describes as "unsuitable material" being sent via the messaging service.

It's advised clubs to use its own app - which it describes as a GDPR compliant communications mechanism - which could become available this summer.

Ireland's largest sporting organisation said the app will enable multi-channel communications via email, SMS and in-app messaging.

Speaking to RTE's Morning Ireland on Wednesday, GAA Data Protection Officer Kelly Cunningham spoke about the organisation's specific difficulties with WhatsApp.

"If an individual was to post something into a WhatsApp group and then remove themselves from the group, the administrators of the group can't remove that material afterwards," said Ms Cunningham.

She said a situation could arise where 100 people could be added to a Whatsapp group for a particular team.

But 60 might not have each other's numbers and material in the group would be automatically shared, she said.

"Basically our main aim is to help our volunteers to ensure sure that they don't unknowingly put themselves at risk of not complying with legislation."

The GAA has had to apologise in recent years for incidents in which material appeared on social media.

Last July, Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte apologised after the publication of a video showing sectarian singing on the county's GAA senior team bus in Aughnacloy.

A further statement on Wednesday said the GAA has had a social media policy in place since the introduction of GDPR in 2018.

The statement said: "The GAA already has a GDPR compliant communications mechanism through its Games Management System, which enables multi-channel communications via email, SMS and in-app messaging.

"The GAA's position on the use of direct messaging apps applies to official communications and correspondence and not to a member's own personal use."

Belfast Telegraph