Exploring digital respect as an antidote to online violence at Safer Internet Forum 2019

On Thursday, 21 November 2019, the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) will take place in Brussels Belgium. With a theme of "From online violence to digital respect", it will also celebrate 20 years of safer/better internet funding by the European Commission.

Exploring the multiple facets of online violence at Safer Internet Forum 2019

The 2019 edition of SIF will explore the topic of online violence and its various forms, and how digital respect can act as an antidote to this phenomenon. This focus echoes the European Commission's #DigitalRespect4Her campaign, launched earlier in 2019, which strives to raise awareness of the gender-based violence girls and young women experience on the internet, and to promote an inclusive and respectful online culture for all EU citizens – a priority for the European Commission. Children and young people in particular should feel safe and respected online; equally, they should feel able and empowered to be active public participants in digital life.

In this context, Thordis Elva, writer, speaker and journalist known for her TED Talk "Our story of rape and reconciliation" will host the opening keynote session, looking at the key issues at stake, including online hate speech, image-based sexual violence, and other forms of technology-facilitated gender-based violence. She will also discuss the solutions brought to these issues, looking in particular into the role of policymakers and regulators, and she will share some examples of successful campaigns and good practice in that regard.

A series of deep dive sessions will look at the phenomenon of online violence from different angles (such as online violence and misogyny in gaming, sexual violence against men and boys) and will also present some interesting and innovative solutions to the phenomenon, such as the deShame project to prevent sexual harassment among young people, the SELMA project to tackle online hate speech with young people, and using artificial intelligence (AI) against online violence.

Focusing on young people's experiences of online violence

One of the aims of the day is to get a better understanding of how children and young people experience violence in the digital world, and how they would like to see adults solve these issues. To do so, what better way than asking the young people themselves? For this reason, young people will be at the heart of two plenary sessions during this iteration of SIF.

On the one hand, the 2019 BIK Youth panellists are currently shaping a "flipped consultation"; an upbeat and highly-interactive session in which they will take participants on a more upbeat journey showing how young people – in cooperation with other stakeholders – can make a positive difference.

Another session will look at the ways young people can use social media to bring about change, through the stories of three young activists who have faced adversity online but have dealt with it by using digital technology and social media to effect positive change:

  • Emma Holten, who was a victim of non-consensual pornography back in 2011, and who launched an online campaign, called CONSENT, to successfully raise awareness of the issues.
  • Gina Martin, who has experienced upskirting and successfully campaigned to make it illegal in the UK, inspiring other young women across the world to do the same and therefore launching a global movement.
  • Sara Sjölander, who worked for Näthatshjälpen, a platform where victims of online hate and harassment can get support and advice on specific problems they are encountering.

Marking INHOPE's 20 years of existence

The INHOPE network of hotlines turns 20 and, on the occasion of Safer Internet Forum 2019, the organisation will hold a session looking back on what has been achieved over this timeframe, in terms of combatting illegal online content, and more specifically child sexual abuse material (CSAM). It will feature contributions from long-standing INHOPE hotlines, European Commission representatives, industry stakeholders and child welfare professionals. The aim of the session is also to use the lessons learnt to shape future activities and a new vision.

For more information about the Safer Internet Forum 2019, including the agenda of the day visit https://www.betterinternetforkids.eu/sif; you can also learn more about past editions of SIF at the same location. And keep an eye on #SaferInternetForum and #SIF2019 on social media for the latest news, and for details of how to watch a live stream of the keynote session.

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