Facebook’s new initiative, to help children be safe online

Neha Dhupia today shared her thoughts on the appropriate behaviour people should undertake if they come across child abuse content online. This is part of a new initiative by the Facebook company, and civil society organizations - Aarambh India Initiative, Cyber Peace Foundation and Arpan. The initiative encourages people to report, and not share such content, so it doesn’t harm children further.  

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Earlier this year to understand how and why people share child exploitative content on Facebook and Instagram, the Facebook company conducted an in-depth analysis of the illegal child exploitative content that the company reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in October and November of 2020. It was found that more than 90% of this content was the same as or visually similar to previously reported content. A further deep dive revealed that most of this sharing was happening without any intent to harm children. These insights set the foundation for the new initiative with civil society organizations .i.e. ‘Report it, don’t share it’, as these organizations are experts in the field of online child safety.  

The initiative is being endorsed by actor Neha Dhupia, who runs a community ‘Freedom to Feed’ on Instagram, which is a safe space for women to speak about breastfeeding and have an open dialogue about the challenges surrounding it. But the community has evolved to become a space for discussing diverse aspects of parenting too. Neha says, “I’ve seen this happen and it’s not right. We tend to share content that comes to us without thinking of the repercussions, even when it is content pertaining to child abuse. It may be a well-intentioned way of making people more aware of the negative events around us, but the impact it has on the child who’s the subject of such content is large. So today, in partnership with Facebook, I want to spread awareness that when you see such pieces of content, please DON’T SHARE, rather REPORT IT!” 

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The initiative launches today with an animated video which visually communicates the negative impact that the circulation of child abuse content could have on the child who’s the subject of such content, even if it’s about condemning the act. Madhu Sirohi, Head of Policy Programs & Outreach, Facebook India,  commented, “We want to foster a safe and supportive environment on Facebook and Instagram and we’re constantly working towards that. While we invest heavily in people and technology to identify and remove this kind of content even before people see it, we also want to spread awareness on the appropriate behaviour in case people spot child abuse content on our platforms.  We’re thankful to our partnership with Neha Dhupia, Aarambh India Initiative, Cyber Peace Foundation and Arpan for making this initiative possible.” 

Recently, Facebook updated its child safety policies to clarify that it will remove Facebook profiles, pages, groups and Instagram accounts that are dedicated to sharing otherwise innocent images of children with captions, hashtags or comments containing inappropriate signs of affection or commentary about the children depicted in the image. The company also added the option to choose “involves a child” under the “Nudity & Sexual Activity” category of reporting in more places on Facebook and Instagram to make it easier to report content for violating its child exploitation policies.  


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