The internet can be a dangerous place, particularly for youth who are more vulnerable to abuse, harassment, and discrimination. Facebook has launched a tool to combat this.
At the launch of Ilizwe Lam, Facebook addressed the elephant in the room: data privacy and security on the social media site. “We take safety and protection of the info of our users on our platform very seriously. We have made changes to address this,” said Emilar Gandhi, public policy manager for the SADC region for Facebook.
With that out of the way, the focus could shift solely to the new youth safety programme. Reaching 1 000 youngsters in South Africa until June, Ilizwe Lam offers both online and offline training for youth, with schools and youth clubs being targeted in the real world.
This in an effort to counter the real world threats of catfishing, fake news, spreading of malicious rumours, and abusive content, along with other negative factors affecting youngsters. It has been running since January, even though its official launch was only this week.
Since the youth use the internet very differently from adults, Ilizwe Lam was developed using feedback from an expert youth panel, who have now become ambassadors of the programme. It is a partnership between Digify Africa and Facebook, and one of the key challenges was ensuring the programme isn’t boring otherwise youngsters would switch off and not learn. To counter this, many interactive and fun elements were included. It covers safety not just on Facebook, but also on other social media platforms.
Promoting child safety and online citizenship key
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services had a representative at the launch, director of Youth and Children Initiatives, Bhekisisa Ngcobo. He praised the initiative. “Promoting child safety and online citizenship is key, and we all have a role to play in it … You can’t relax having spoken to the children, telling them to be safe online. You need to preach the message over and over again,” he says.
The department is hosting eParenting sessions to teach parents how to parent in the digital era, and is looking to form more partnerships to further this crucial element.
10 key points taught during the program and tips from Facebook
- Be your authentic self
- Choose your friends wisely
- Set strong passwords
- Know your audience
- Report abusive content
- Manage your location privacy
- Securely login and logout
- Be aware of scams
- Regularly review your privacy setting
- Regularly review your security settings
Facebook’s approach to safety
The social media giant use five ways to enhance safety: policies, tools, a help option, partnerships, and feedback. Users, particularly parents, are encouraged to explore all the tools available to them to ensure and enhance not only their own online safety but that of their children as well.
Michael Bratt is a multimedia journalist at Wag the Dog, publishers of The Media Online and The Media. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelBratt8