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Facebook partners with ministry of women and child development to promote online safety

Ankhi Das (L), Director, Public Policy - India, South & Central Asia with Minister for Women and Child Development with Smriti Zubin Irani at Facebook South Asia Safety Summit 2019Premium
Ankhi Das (L), Director, Public Policy - India, South & Central Asia with Minister for Women and Child Development with Smriti Zubin Irani at Facebook South Asia Safety Summit 2019

  • The focus of the partnership will be on empowering women and teenagers with right information and tools to help them better navigate the complex world of social media
  • The company also announced the launch of global literacy program ‘We Think Digital’

In an attempt to ramp up its efforts towards online safety, Facebook India on Tuesday announced that it has forged a content partnership with the ministry of women and child development (MWCD) to co-create a digital literacy program which will help build awareness among new online users. The focus will be on empowering women and teenagers with right information and tools to help them better navigate the complex world of social media which poses threat of hate speech, misinformation, online abuse and bullying.

Launched at the second edition of Facebook South Asia's Safety Summit held in New Delhi on 19 November, Facebook, which has close to 300 million users in India, said that it has launched a comic series under #CreateCareConnect illustrated by a young Delhi-based doodler, @neha.doodles which aims to educate young users about online safety in a simple and engaging way.

The company also announced the launch of global literacy program ‘We Think Digital’ which will witness participation from agencies from both government and civil society. The program will make use of learning modules designed to equip people with skills, including the ability to think critically about what they see online, how to communicate respectfully, and engage in digital discourse. Under this program, Facebook said it is working with partners to train more than five million people by 2021.

“While the internet opens doors for women and children to learn and gain knowledge, it also comes with the responsibility to ensure their safety, and to enable them to express their views without any apprehension. Our constant effort has been to progress the cause of equal opportunity for women and ensure a safe environment for children. Together with Facebook, we want to build ways, in which we equip and educate people to help them make smarter choices online and learn about Internet safety," said minister for women and child development, Smriti Zubin Irani.

The social media company also announced the formation of Ideal Internet Consortium led by the Mumbai based non-profit organisation Aarambh India Initiative which will work towards ensuring safety for children who are coming online. The group will consist of child safety practitioners that will use real field experience and research to deliberate over safety issues and propose recommendations for civil society, industry and government. So far, the consortium has had seven focus group discussions with young people from cites across Odisha, Tripura, Jharkhand and Kerala. The findings will help to create strategies focused on keeping young users safe online.

Facebook will launch Thumbstoppers campaign, which will be a series of short creative mobile videos under 10 seconds , that will focus on empowering and educating people on issues such as gender equality, domestic violence and education for the girl child.

Ankhi Das, director of public policy for Facebook - India, South and Central Asia said, “Our digital literacy efforts are focused on addressing specific problem areas in the social media world, which are essentially about how we connect to and interact with people and our online ethics and behavior. We are building programs that are aimed at internet users’ digital hygiene and maintaining online privacy and security."

Over the years, Facebook and its family of apps such as photo sharing platform Instagram and chatting app WhatsApp has made multiple changes in its privacy settings to control issues of hate speech, misinformation, bullying and abuse. While marking a comment or post as spam or inappropriate content is one of the ways of dealing with online abuse, Facebook is now focusing on educating users about identifying, flagging and dealing with online abuse effectively.

It has recently made changes in product like Instagram’s global test of making like counts private as well as new safety features like ‘Restrict’, that protect your account from unwanted interactions.

Facebook said it already works with partners including Common Service Centre Academy, Centre for Social Research, National Commission for Women, IAMAI, Cyber Peace Foundation to provide digital literacy to women in India.

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