As the world comes together on this Safer Internet Day, to seek responsible and practical application of online assets, we spoke with Mercy Ndegwa, Facebook Head of Public Policy East and Horn of Africa on what facebook is doing to enhance online safety among the younger consumers of online products especially with the emerging concepts of social listening.
With the internet increasingly becoming critical for children to learn and connect with friends, family, and classmates, it has also become increasingly risky with growing reports of victims of online predators, cyberbullying, and/ or inappropriate online content.
Against the backdrop of this year’s theme for the day; ‘Together for a Better Internet’ Mercy mentioned that facebook had partnered with Ubongo kids to help curate safe content and amplify their safety messaging for the two partners.
“Through partnerships like this with Ubongo kids, facebook leverages the use of cartoon characters to amplify safety messaging to manage the well-being and safety of online consumers,” Mercy pointed out adding, “It also serves to remind consumers that a lot of bad things can happen on the Internet people don’t take appropriate precautions.”
The Facebook Ubongo partnership also saw the launch of a Public Service Announcement video in various languages for sensitizing online users about safety.
“Safer Internet Day is an important reminder that the rapidly expanding digital world needs to be protected and preserved for everyone and Facebook uses it to ensure online safety especially among children,” she added.
With over 4.5 billion internet users across the globe, the internet has become a daily necessity that many are reliant upon to work, learn and communicate. While it is important to recognize the growing value that the online community provides, it’s equally imperative to acknowledge that consumers can be vulnerable while using online tools. It, thereforFacebe, calls for constant vigilance.
Facebook sets rules that encourage appropriate and courteous online behavior. These rules are important as they promote communication skills, prevent miscommunications, and help netizens, especially children and young adults to understand what is socially acceptable when working and collaborating online. It also set time limits and content filters to enable the younger netizens to access only what is ‘clean’ content and to leverage AI technology to flag content incase of any cyberbullying incidents.
“In the event of cyberbullying, FB uses artificial intelligence for automatic safeguard and to flag any malicious content,” she avers.
Media Balance and Well balance
Mercy pointed out that it is the parents’ responsibility to create a balance of online and offline lives of their children as the people who guide these children in life. She said, “People who constantly guide them in life should be the same guiding their online lives.”
She further observed that online threats are also available offline and so a consistent caregiver of the younger netizens could give a better analysis of any threat history for the most appropriate circumvention mechanism.
Mercy noted that Facebook provides customized online products for children and young adults that ensure authentic identity.
She notes, “It is important to have authentic identities online as any aliases will not be cautious about the content they share as opposed to authentic identities.” “Cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to negatively impact internet experiences and the vast size of the internet means that keeping the internet safe is a communal task.”
Safer Internet Day is an annual event, now on the 18th year. It is celebrated in about 15 countries across the world to make the internet a safer and better place for all, and especially for children and young adults.