Making Facebook safer for teens

In Delhi for Facebook’s South Asia Safety Summit, Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety, renewed the social media giant’s commitment to making the platform safer for children.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The minimum age to create a Facebook account is 13, but this does not necessarily mean that every teenager on the platform will have a safe and secure experience. Dangers similar to those in the offline world — bullying, child pornography, hate speech — exist on social media platforms, often manifesting themselves in different (and sometimes, new and more macabre) ways.

Here for work

Even as Facebook’s credibility suffered some massive blows in the recent past, Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety, is optimistic. In Delhi this week for Facebook’s South Asia Safety Summit, she reiterates the social media giant’s commitment to protecting vulnerable groups. “We see people using our platform to do so many great and positive things — offering support to each other, and creating community change,” she says. “I want to make sure that we protect that incredibly positive experience.”

At the summit, Facebook launched a digital literacy library in six Indian languages, committing to train 3,00,000 people in online digital safety by the end of the year. It also conducted a two-day child safety hackathon at IIT Delhi to develop technological solutions to child sex trafficking. “All the coding that is developed will be donated to our NGO partners,” she shares.

Checks in place

Davis — a former middle school teacher and lawyer who worked on data privacy for the US Attorney General’s office before joining Facebook — stresses that child safety is a priority. She explains how Facebook uses photo matching technology to create a digital thumbprint of known images of child exploitation, in an attempt to prevent such images from being uploaded. For unknown images, the company is testing new classifying technology.

“You can also remove bullying comments in a group en masse,” she shares. “We have developed our bullying prevention hub which has tools and tips for people to get guidance.”

Online behaviour, she says, is not as different to offline conduct as some parents might believe. Her tip for parents: “be willing to let your children teach you. Ask them questions about how they use their technology. Be a good role model.”

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 2:30:29 PM |

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