BIK bulletin: building digital respect at Safer Internet Forum 2019

In each edition of the BIK bulletin, we look at a topical issue – this time we take a look back at this year's Safer Internet Forum.

Safer Internet Forum 2019 took place on Thursday, 21 November 2019 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Brussels, Belgium. More than 270 people from approximately 40 countries participated in discussions around "From online violence to digital respect".

Building on the European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children, Safer Internet Forum (SIF) is an annual international conference delivered under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Bringing together young people, parent and teacher representatives, industry and government policy makers, technological and awareness-raising experts, and political, educational and social leaders from Europe and beyond, this one-day event takes a multi-stakeholder approach to considering the impact of technology on individuals and society.

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Thordis Elva at Safer Internet Forum 2019

Following a welcome by the European Commission (EC), SIF 2019 opened with a keynote address during which Thordis Elva, writer, speaker and journalist, first provided an overview of the key issues at stake when considering online violence, including online hate speech, image-based sexual violence, and other forms of technology-facilitated gender-based violence. She then went on to elaborate on some of the strategies and resources that have already been put in place to address the issues, including the role that government, policy makers and regulators can and are playing, while also looking at some of the successful campaigns that have raised awareness of the issues. During her keynote, Thordis shared examples of good practice and gave a call to action for participants to reflect on what they can do to encourage and foster digital respect.

Picture of the Safer Internet Forum 2019

From left to right, top to bottom: Stephen Turner, Roger Loppacher, June Lowery, Thomas Myrup Kristensen, and BIK Youth Panellist Frida

Thordis' keynote was then followed by a panel discussion in which Frida, BIK Youth Panellist, Roger Loppacher, President, Consell de l'Audiovisual de Catalunya (CAC), Thomas Myrup Kristensen, Managing Director EU Affairs, Facebook, and Stephen Turner, Head of Public Policy, Government and Philanthropy, Twitter, further debated some of the issues raised.

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BIK Youth Panellists at Safer Internet Forum 2019

Given the importance of youth participation in the Safer Internet Forum, the opening keynote and panel discussion was followed by a youth-led session. Starting from a broad understanding of what digital violence and respect means to them, BIK Youth Panellists delivered an upbeat and interactive session using the "flipped classroom" model with the aim of shifting the consultation perspective. In advance of SIF, BIK Youth Panellists had been working collaboratively to identify a set of concrete problems, based on their personal views and experiences of digital violence. During the session, they shared some of the challenges they face, while explaining how digital respect should look in order to make a difference. Forum participants then took part in small-group discussions – together with the young people present – in order to deepen their understanding of what is at stake, while building towards remedial strategies and solutions.

Picture of the deep dive session facilitators at Safer Internet Forum 2019

From left to right, top to bottom: Lavinia McLean, Maithreyi Rajeshkumar, Nick Dunne, Milan Zubicek, Julie Dawson, Niels-Christian Bilenberg, and the INHOPE network

The afternoon was given over to a series of highly interactive "deep dive" sessions. Through detailed discussion, debate and practical exercises, forum attendees had the opportunity to explore issues around online sexual violence and misogyny in gaming; sexual violence against men and boys; online sexual harassment (with a focus on the successes of the deShame project, which aims to increase reporting of online sexual harassment among young people, and improve multi-sector cooperation in preventing and responding to this behaviour); online hate (with a focus on the SELMA project, which builds upon a social and emotional learning (SEL) approach to empower young people to become agents of change); and using AI as a solution to combat online violence.

A parallel deep dive stream, INHOPE@20, provided a celebration of the work of the INHOPE network as it turned 20, reviewing what has been achieved over that time in combatting illegal online content and, specifically, child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

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From left to right: Lili Leißer Sara Sjölander, Gina Martin, Emma Holten

The final plenary session of the day showcased a number of inspiring stories of how young people have used social media and online platforms to bring about positive change. Emma Holten was a victim of nonconsensual pornography back in 2011; she then launched an online campaign/activist project to successfully raise awareness of the issues. Gina Martin was a victim of upskirting and successfully campaigned to change UK law and make this a crime. Her success has spurred on lots of others across the world to take similar action. Sara Sjölander worked on an online harassment platform Näthatshjälpen, where victims of hatred and harassment online can get support and advice on specific situations. She is also working with Flickaplattformen, an organisation that fights to improve the life of girls.
 
Click on the links above to read the reports from each of the Forum's sessions, or visit www.betterinternetforkids.eu/sif to download a full post-event report and presentations, and to view the photo gallery from the day.


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A look back at the keynote session "From online violence to digital respect" at SIF 2019

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

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