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Facebook to Fund Digital Safety Ambassadors

digital safety

Facebook announced Monday it plans to invest over $1.3 million to help train youth to serve as digital safety ambassadors in British secondary schools.

The social media giant’s announcement comes on the heels of the British government’s unrolling of its Internet Safety Strategy; which includes possible levies on social media platforms.

According to Facebook—which reached over two billion active monthly users in 2017—the company has partnered with charitable organizations to provide online and classroom training to assist teenagers in addressing cyberbullying.

Recent research shows many young cyberbullying victims are reluctant to disclose to an adult what is happening.

Facebook’s funding would help train mentors in 4,500 British schools over the next 2 years.

In response to the announcement, a spokesperson for NSPCC, a UK charity fighting child abuse, stated:

It is absolutely vital that Facebook and the internet industry work to ensure that their platforms are safe environments for young people to use.

We want to see a strong set of minimum standards that all social media companies must follow including grooming and bullying alerts, an army of child safety moderators, clear community guidelines and greater transparency about how and what they are doing to keep children safe online.

Australia Launches Portal to Combat Revenge Porn

revenge porn

Australia Takes Steps to Combat Revenge Porn

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has introduced a portal to help that nation’s victims of revenge porn.

Nonconsensual image sharing, commonly referred to as revenge porn, is a form of online abuse in which perpetrators show, send, or publish nude or sexually-compromising photos or videos of a person without the subject’s consent.

Australia’s portal—reportedly now in its pilot phase—is attempting to gauge “the volume and complexity” of the problem.

The portal provides guidance on how victims can take action—it offers guidance on having images removed if they have been published online, getting the police involved, and managing abusive communications that are being sent directly to the victim.

Victims of revenge porn also share their stories.

The Problem in the U.S.

A December 2016 report by the Data & Society research institute found that 1 in 25 online Americans have either had sensitive images posted without their permission or been threatened with nonsensual image sharing.

As with other forms of cyber abuse, the problem is believed disproportionately to affect females and LGBTQ.

More than 30 states have passed laws making nonconsensual image-sharing and other types of cyber abuse a crime.

Social Media Complaints Data to be Public in Britain

social media complaints

Data on social media complaints may soon be set to be ‘public’ in Britain.

In an aim to ensure social media provide a clear picture of “true scale of risks and harms that users encounter on their platforms,” Britain is unrolling a comprehensive “internet safety strategy.”

The policy aims to encourage social media platforms to publish data on the complaints received and on how often the platforms actually remove abusive messages in response.

Britain’s Culture Secretary Karen Bradley social media giants like Facebook and Twitter will not await a mandate; asking that  giants elect voluntarily to publish the requested information on social media complaints and handling.

Announcing the strategy, Ms. Bradley stated:

I believe Britain should be the safest place in the world to go online and this government is determined to make that a reality.

Put simply, behaviour that is unacceptable in normal life should be unacceptable on a computer screen.

Adding:

As part of this strategy, we will work with key players to introduce a comprehensive response to the problem, including an online code of practice that I want to see every social media company sign up to.

A call for companies to think about safety during the design of their products, to ensure that basic safety features are included from the outset; and a plan to ensure that every child is taught the skills they need to be safe online.

The strategy comes following reports that websites and apps were not doing enough to remove abusive messages.

In reporting the announcement, UK’s The Daily Mail notes that cyberbullying is a problem affecting both children and adults:

Teachers say cyberbullying is a growing problem. While children used to be able to escape playground abuse by going home, now it follows them home via social media.

Even when children complain to web firms about bullying messages, nothing is done to punish the perpetrator.

MPs – particularly female MPs – have also complained of the rising tide of online abuse.

Thousands of abusive tweets were sent to shadow home secretary Diane Abbott alone during the election campaign.

New Apps Breed Teen Cyberbullying

cyberbullying among teens

Cyberbullying Among Teens

New apps are providing fertile ground for cyberbullying among teens.

Following the success of platforms like Ask.fm, Curious Cat, Yik Yak, Whisper and Secret, 2 new so-called “honesty apps” Sarahah & TBH (shorthand for “to be honest”) enable users to provide anonymous feedback about individuals. The apps provide a ready platform for cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is an increasingly significant public health problem that is especially pronounced in girls and LGBTQ youth. Cyberbullying can lead to serious negative social, mental, and physical effects.

The potential for abuse by youth and teens of so-called “honesty apps” is clear.

TBH

While TBH is reportedly heavily-moderated, critics fear that its requirement that the app be permitted to access users’ location and contacts makes the app unsafe for young users.

Sarahah

Sarahah is reported to be breeding harassment.

One user review commented “My friend who is suicidal is getting messages like why are u still alive kill urself already.

Sarahah was one of the most downloaded iPhone apps in the U.S. in August.

Can People Cyberbully Themselves? Understanding Digital Self Harm

digital self harm

Understanding Digital Self-Harm

Digital self harm must always be ruled out as a possibility when investigating anonymous cyberbullying.

By now, the behavior of self-harm is well-known.  Self-harm or self-injury occurs when a person purposely harms himself.  But there is also another form of self-harming behavior in which a person might engage: Digital self-harm.

Digital self-harm is behavior in which a person anonymously sends himself/herself instructions to self-harm – through online postings or messages.

What are the reasons a person might threaten or harass himself/herself?

The reasons why a person might send himself/herself harassing or threatening digital messages vary.  But a person might engage in digital self-harm for the following reasons:

  • to be funny/get attention
  • to test their friends, or
  • out of self-hate or low self-esteem

Risk Factors for Digital Self Harm

Certain risk factors are associated with digital self-harm.  For instance, LGBTQ, victims of bullying, drug use, or physical self-harming behavior.  All of these make it more likely a person might engage in digital self-harming.

Given the severe negative effects of cyberbullying investigators must be careful to carefully avoid victim-blaming.  In early stages, however, they should remain open to the possibility that one person may be both – the victim and the cyberbully.

An experienced cyberbullying lawyer can help you look into reports of cyberbullying and help you explore legal options.