To mark Safer Internet Day 2022 on February 8, Meta launched today the MENA-dedicated ‘My Digital World’ website and announced a series of local initiatives and efforts to promote a safer internet for all users across the Arab region.
Aiming to keep users in the region, particularly the youth, safe on the internet, the website includes Meta’s youth digital literacy resources which are available in Arabic. Working in partnership with experts across the MENA region, My Digital World provides accessible learning modules and resources to build skills for a digital world. Through My Digital World, Meta is reaching learners across the region and shaping the Arab digital community for the better.
The lessons available on the website are designed for students aged 13-18 years old. The curriculum is designed with step-by-step instructions for teachers of students in this age range. These lessons are drawn from the resources of several expert partners with experience designing content and curriculum. Amongst the Digital Foundations and Digital Engagements modules, users can explore a wide range of online safety topics including using and maintaining strong passwords, connecting to secured WiFi, cybersecurity and spam, as well as verification.
Speaking about the launch, Joelle Awwad, Public Policy Programs Manager for Middle East and North Africa at Meta, said:
“Keeping people safe on our apps is really important to us. They use them to share their stories and connect with friends and family, but none of this is possible if people don’t feel safe while using them. That’s why we’re always working to build a safer and more supportive community. We want to empower and educate people, particularly the youth, to make digitally safe decisions and give them the information they need.
Safer Internet Day is a really important opportunity for us to remind our communities about the importance of safety. This is exactly why we are launching the MENA-dedicated website ‘My Digital World’ on this day with resources that can help people navigate an increasingly digital world safely and securely.”
Amongst these series of local initiatives and efforts, Meta has also launched a public safety campaign in Lebanon. Partnering with Himaya, a Lebanese NGO that promotes the protection of children and families from all types of abuse through its resilience, prevention and rehabilitation programs, the campaign ‘Report it. Don’t Share it’ aims to prevent the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
During November 2021 on World Children’s Day, Meta launched the same CSAM public safety campaign in the UAE. In local partnership with the UAE Digital WellBeing Council and the Ministry of Interior Child Protection Center, the campaign emphasised through both a Meta-led media briefing call and a roundtable the fact that sharing child exploitative material, even in the context of outrage or condemnation, causes further harm to the child and is illegal.
Recently, Meta announced the global expansion of Facebook Protect, a program designed for people that are likely to be highly targeted by malicious hackers, including human rights defenders, journalists, and government officials. Facebook Protect is one of the many initiatives Meta is taking in its efforts towards upskilling journalists with digital skills and helping them keep themselves safe online by making a number of key announcements.
In December 2021, Meta also announced the second year of the “I Will Not Stay Silent (IWNSS)” Project in partnership with the Meta Journalist Project that aims at providing the journalistic community, especially women journalists with effective tools to express themselves, document harassment and abuse, raise their voice and hold those responsible accountable. In addition to the IWNSS project, Meta also announced #SafetyFirst, a new training project in partnership with ARIJ to train journalists on digital security and safety. This project aims at increasing the awareness, knowledge, skills and safety for all journalists in the region, within newsrooms and/or freelancers in three-folds: training, awareness, individualized skills and continuous support. To access the digital resources, learning modules, and safety content, please visit the My Digital World website: https://totem-project.org/ar/ for more information and useful tools.
Instagram prioritizing its community’s safety
Instagram partnered with NGOs and governmental entities across Egypt and Morocco to launch nation-wide awareness campaigns geared towards addressing online bullying on social media platforms and help protect users, especially young people, from the damage different forms of online bullying can cause. The campaigns were a call to action for the community to share and interact more consciously and considerately and brought to light the significant magnitude of cyberbullying – underlining the need for immediate attention. Alongside numerous assets, Instagram created a toolkit that collates some of the anti-bullying tools and features that help users avoid and prevent interactions with bullies on the platform.
Further building on its efforts to ensure Instagram remains a welcoming and supportive place, Instagram recently added new features to keep young people even safer on the platform. These include taking a stricter approach to what is recommended to teens on the app; stopping people from tagging or mentioning teens that don’t follow them; nudging teens towards different topics if they’ve been dwelling on one topic for a long time; launching the Take a Break feature in certain countries as a starter; and introducing Instagram’s first tools for parents and guardians to help them get more involved in their teen’s experiences by seeing how much time their teens spend on Instagram and set time limits.
People will now also be able to bulk manage (delete, archive) their content (posts, stories, IG video and Reels) and their interactions (comments, likes, story sticker reactions, etc.) In addition, people will be able to sort and filter their content and interactions by date and search for past comments, likes and stories replies from specific date ranges, all in one place, “Your Activity” tab. Other existing features you can find on this new surface include Recently Deleted, Archive, Search History, Links Visited, Time Spent, and Download Your Information. To access “Your activity”, go to your Profile and tap the menu in the upper right corner, next tap “Your activity”.
And finally, in October 2021, Instagram launched a phishing awareness campaign across the MENA region to re-educate the community on how to stay safe on the app and bring forth the tools in place that help people keep their Instagram accounts secured against phishing attacks and suspicious activity.