Hate speech, online ‘trolls’ and extremists who use the internet to target our children were thrust back into the headlines this week as MPs summoned tech giants to answer why they’re not doing more to stop it.
Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google were asked by the Home Affairs select committee why they did not police their content more effectively.
The social media leaders were told their companies had a “terrible reputation” for dealing with problems.
It is a welcome move. Pressure needs to be put on these companies to do more. They are often accused of putting profit over the safeguarding of young people and at this hearing, MPs asked exactly that tough question.
The response was an acknowledgement that they are indeed not doing enough.
We are gravely concerned that terrorist organisations such as Daesh are ramping up their efforts to target young adults here in the UK via the platforms these tech giants provide, so any progress made to more effectively police content is great news.
Back in December 2016, Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft announced they were teaming up to tackle extremist content. They pledged to work together to identify and remove extremist content on their platforms through an information-sharing initiative.
This represented a welcome first step. We hope that the Home Affairs select committee hearing will encourage further moves forward.
However, the content on these sites and apps is vast. We, as users, need to assist in policing and reporting far-right, terrorist or bullying content so that the tech companies can act.
And we also need to monitor what our children are accessing when online, whether that’s via computer or their smartphones.
Safer Internet Day 2017 was celebrated globally on Tuesday 7th February with the theme ‘Be the change: unite for a better internet’. We published a blog on the day focusing on what parents can and should do to play their part in safeguarding our kids. This holds the key.
It’s right that the powers that be from the tech giants are taken to task about their safeguarding shortcomings and challenged about how and when they are going to start doing more to remove extreme content.
But each and every one of us must unite in our fight to ensure threatening posts which can lead to radicalised views do not reach and begin to indoctrinate our children.
We must educate ourselves and our children about online material and what to do if we come across it. Understanding that while the internet is an incredibly valuable resource it can pose a risk to our wellbeing.
At JAN Trust, we aim to help mothers who fear for their children’s safety online with our Web Guardians© project. Our sessions explore how to deal with the threats and how to speak with our children about them.
Our strategy begins right in our homes. We are encouraged by government moves to question the social media giants and hope this leads to a reduction of extremist content online. But we must work together, uniting for a better internet and for a brighter future for our children.