EMEA Child Safety Summit at its third edition

On 18-19 April 2018, the third edition of the EMEA Child Safety Summit took place (the first one was held in 2016), organised by Facebook and Google at their respective European headquarters in Dublin. Bringing together multiple experts on child safety online, the two-day summit was a fruitful gathering of stakeholders from the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) region, pitching their initiatives and resources for safe and responsible use of the internet by children and young people.

Day one, hosted by Facebook, looked into recent Facebook and Instagram developments, counting on the presence of their Safety Policy representatives at European and global level.

Looking back at the previous editions, several Facebook representatives highlighted developments from the past year:

The various panel discussions of the day included:

  • "Educating parents: success stories and challenges", highlighting the need for digital literacy inclusion among the rights of the child, particularly as parents face similar challenges all over the world.
     
  • "Child sexual exploitation: the latest on detection and prevention", discussing how to deal with the multiple barriers encountered when offering support to victims and perpetrators.
     
  • "Young women and social media – the future of activism" brought together remarkable activists in the field, from Europe to Africa, including the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy#dearcatcallers, and Black Board Africa.
     
  • Peer-to-peer programming in practice shared examples of successful resources working on designed programmes to teach young people digital literacy such as bopo.boy (body positive and LGBTQIA activist), Locker Room (reaching out to boy scouts and football clubs), Anti-Bullying Week (Diana Award), and training trainers at Habitat and Digify Africa.

A number of controversial issues were also discussed; the most prevalent was around some of the previously explained consent flows for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming in to force in May 2018. Looking into Facebook's approach to protecting teens' personal data, Facebook elaborated on the recent announcements on privacy protection. On the age of consent issue, Facebook is working on a mechanism of approval by parents/legal guardian through a registration and approval process. Facebook will also put in place a series of concise updates, which will be displayed in the upcoming weeks before the GDPR implementation: users will then need to read and approve accordingly (and, equally, teens will also need to redirect and obtain their parents approval).

During the second day of the summit, Google representatives from European and global offices presented various updates relevant for child safety online, looking into developments since 2017:

  • Online safety education initiatives such as Be Internet LegendsInterland game, and Web Rangers (Google Israel) were showcased as practices promoting a positive approach to online content for youth.
     
  • Family Link app, where parents can stay in the loop as their children explore the online world on their digital devices. Family Link especially targets families with children under the age of 13. With the app, parents can create a Google Account for their children that is similar to the parent account. For example, "YouTube Kids" is designed for minors in order to dive into a world of learning and entertainment.
     
  • YouTube updates on harmful content: examples of YouTube challenges were given to emphasise the type of content and risks that the company needs to deal with such as no lackin, Blue Whale or tide pods. Against this background, and more broadly to counteract harmful content, support initiatives were pointed to such as the redirect method, the YouTube trusted flagger programme and Be Internet Citizens.

The panel discussions during the day at Google included:

  • "Dealing with sensitive content: a behind the scenes look" which emphasised, through a testimonial approach, how when working with such requirements, diversity is very important to understand the content, as well as being sensitive, while having empathy, strength and passion.
     
  • "A content creator's perspective" where YouTuber Hannah Witton led an open conversation about sexual education and health.
     
  • "Children's rights online" envisaged the need to appreciate a holistic perspective when it comes to the rights of the child, tackling privacy and the freedom of expression for children and considering children's aspirations as future digital citizens. Representatives of the Irish Safer Internet Centre's Youth Panel actively contributed to this discussion.

More information and social media posts by participants can be found using the conference hashtag #ChildSafetySummit2018 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

In the second half of April 2018, the YouTube Community Guidelines Enforcement Report was launched, which includes never-shared-before data about enforcement of YouTube's content policies. The report is available here and more information is available on the YouTube blog.

YouTube Kids also a launched feature where parents can choose collections of channels created by YouTube Kids and trusted third partners on a variety of topics. More information is available in a YouTube blog post and in a YouTube Kids Parental Guide.

Check out the Better Information for Kids (BIK) Guide to online services for more resources and tips on online safety on a range of online services such as FacebookInstagramYouTube, and YouTube Kids.


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Lorcan, a member of the Webwise youth panel (part of the Irish Safer Internet Centre), recently attended the Facebook/Google EMEA Child Safety Summit in Dublin, Ireland, taking part in a panel discussion to ensure that the voice of youth was heard. Here, he recounts his experience.