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Facebook Planning to Use Artificial Intelligence To Combat Hateful Memes

Facebook is combating hate speech and misinformation by developing natural language processing models and a database of meme examples for training artificial intelligence moderators. The company, together with DrivenData, will also launch the Hateful Meme Challenge, which will award $100,000 to researchers who develop AI models that can detect hate speech in memes.

Where Did That Facebook Post Come From?

In its latest effort to improve content transparency leading up to the US election, Facebook is adding new location markers on individual business profile posts, on both Facebook and Instagram, which will highlight where the managers of that page or account are primarily located, helping to provide additional context. That’s another tool for you and your kids to use in combatting cyberbullying and misinformation. This new transparency feature will be particularly important with the election in the fall of 2020.

Cyberbullying During COVID-19 : Spotting the Symptoms

Just because kids aren’t in school does not mean that cyberbullying is taking a rest. With an increase in kids and teens using digital platforms for personal use and online learning, kids who are prone to being bullied in school are likely to now be cyberbullied. When kids are stressed out and bored the opportunity to cyberbully can be appealing. In normal times, according to STOMP Out Bullying, 5.4 million children are afraid to go to school every day for fear of being bullied. “Imagine all those children that are now being home schooled online and afraid to sign into their accounts due to the same reason,” said Ross Ellis, founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying. “Children who have more free time on their hands may find additional screen time attractive and cyberbullying can become one of their activities.”

While teachers may be aware of conflicts during online learning sessions, they can only do so much to help children navigate the waters of cyberbullying. Parents need to also be vigilant to signs their children are being cyberbullied, but this can be hard in the present circumstances because some of the warning signs like depression, changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns, feelings of helplessness, and physical symptoms like headaches and upset stomach may also be reaction to being home for so long. Probably the clearest sign that something is wrong is when kids don’t want to go online, spend time on their usual social media apps, or check in with friends.

What can a parent do?

  • If you don’t have one, now is the time to make a Family Internet Safety Agreement outlining the responsibilities that your kids must follow when using your home’s Internet service. Here is a sample you can use as an example to create one for your own household during the COVID-19 quarantine and beyond. And if you already have one, it is a good time to review it with your kids. The Center for Cyber Safety and Education has some free tip sheets on a variety of digital safety topics including cyberbullying
  • This is a time when it is an essential to communicate with your kids and teens about their online life. Let them know that it’s okay to come to you if they are being cyberbullied. Encourage them to tell you immediately if they are being digitally harassed, cyberbullied, cyberstalked, or if they’ve been approached by a predator. Tell them you won’t be angry about anything. You just want to help them.
  • Explain that cyberbullying is harmful and unacceptable. Discuss appropriate online behavior and make it clear that there will be consequences for inappropriate behavior.
  • If your child does participate in cyberbullying, be willing to sit down and talk about why, and how owning up to their behavior and making an apology can go a long way in making things right again. Be prepared for the fact that your kids may tell you they thought they were only teasing or that “everyone was doing it,” but remind them that it is likely the person on the other end won’t take it that way. Ask your kids to talk to you if they feel tempted or somehow urged to do it again and search your own life and make sure you are not modeling that kind of behavior. Remind them that cyberbullying is a choice.
  • If possible, try to be around when your kids are online on their phones, laptops and tablets. You don’t need to spy on them or stand over his or her shoulder, but just keep tabs on what they are doing online. This is also really good time to ban digital device use overnight and set up a charging station in the kitchen or other high traffic area where the devices will be left overnight.
  • While it may not always be your favorite activity for them, allow and support your children when it comes to Skyping, Zooming and FaceTiming their friends, as well as livestreaming on their favorite apps (depending on their age, maturity, and your household rules, of course). Research has shown that socializing and connecting with their peers is essential for their continued healthy development and especially in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.

Talking to Your Kids About Social Media Safety: Tik Tok, Instagram and More

The basics of talking to your kids about staying safe on all the latest and greatest social media apps is not all that different then the general digital safety cautionary conversation you have probably had with them about the Internet in general. If you need a refresher, here is link to the basics of what should be part of that conversation. The most important thing to remember? Remind them that anything that is posted is permanent, even if you have deleted it or shared it on an app like Snapchat, where the message is supposed to disappear. There is always a chance someone could take a screen shot or can hack into your archive. Once it is up, you never know where it may pop up again.

For currently popular apps such as TikTok, Instagram and more, parents will need to spend a little time getting familiar with them in order to have any credibility in talking about them. There are lots of guides available for parents, complete with all the cautions you need to emphasize. Common Sense Media, for example, has a parent’s section complete with quick tip guides on Instagram and TikTok. They often do follow up articles on other problems that crop up with each app over time, so don’t just click on the first guide you see  - look for one that has been done more recently to make sure you have the latest information on how kids are using the app and what issues have surfaced. USA Today  also specializes in creating these kinds of parent guides. Take advantage of what others have discovered and keep your ears open for other issues and new apps that parents in your children’s social orbit may be talking about.

Infographic on the Power of Online Reviews and Cyberbullying Prevention

At first glance, this infographic from Social Media Today with statistics about online product reviews may not seem relevant to a discussion about cyberbullying, however one statistic stands out. The research indicates that it takes 40 positive reviews to undo damage done by just one negative review. That same kind of disproportional damage can be inflicted with bullying comments online. This kind of evidence can give your discussion with your kids of how to steer clear of cyberbullying a bit of real world perspective.

Kids More Vulnerable to Online Predators During Corona Crisis Says FBI

The FBI is alerting parents, teachers and caregivers to the increased risk of online child sexual exploitation as children spend more time on the Internet while schools are closed because of the coronavirus. The agency urges parents to discuss Internet safety with children and to review the apps, games and websites that are being used. They also suggest parents adjust online settings if they can’t physically watch their children’s online activity. Do an online search to find out how to adjust the privacy settings on the specific devices your children use. Some signs that your child may be in contact with an online predator include increased nightmares, withdrawn behaviors, angry outbursts, anxiety and depression. And in case you need it, here is a checklist of things you should be talking to your kids about Internet safety.

Facebook Releases New Digital Literacy Resources for Parents and Kids

With school closures and COVID-19 lockdowns, kids are spending a lot more time online, increasing the risk of them stumbling into dark corners of the Web. Add to this the fact that many parents are also now working from home, and unable to supervise what their children are doing, and the problem grows exponentially. In order to help, Facebook has recently launched a new education resource for kids, parents and educators that aims to "provide lessons and resources to help young people develop the competencies and skills they need to more safely navigate the Internet". The new initiative - called simply 'Get Digital' - includes several dedicated education areas, each of which features a video overview, and links to a range of tools and resources to help improve digital literacy.

Is Technology Harming Parent-Teacher-Student Communications?

Despite having more tools than ever to communicate with each other, Jeremy Hyler, a middle-school English teacher in Michigan, says he notices that communication breakdowns among educators, parents and students are increasingly common. In this article, he shares that technology-based communication, where tone can often be misinterpreted, may be at the root of the problem. He also discusses a common problem known as “keyboard courage.” “Keyboard courage” he says is the courage to say things to individuals that you would not normally say if they were standing in front of you. Some of Hyler’s tips to combat miscommunication when using technology include reading a potential post out loud to a friend or family member to gauge its tone, or writing your response in a word processing document first. His biggest advice? Put your digital device down and talk with the person face-to-face (or at least do that when the current health crisis is over).

Social Media and Gaming: The New Frontier

New research from Kantar reveals that while Generation Z (those with birthdates between the mid 1990s and mid 2010s) is more active on social media than any other age group, their favorite apps aren’t YouTube, Facebook, SnapChat or TikTok. Kids in this generation are most at home in the private and creative world of video games. Nearly 90% of them are gamers (compared to 59% of the total population) and are finding social communities within games such as "Fortnite." Kantar's Michelle Brisson says, "They are just changing the way social media works for them, participating in smaller, niche ecosystems."

Instagram’s Restrict Mode – A Way to Block Bullies

If you are not already aware of it, Instagram has a “Restrict” option that givers users control over what comments their followers see on each of their posts. Instagram instituted the option after it was found that young people are reluctant to block, unfollow, or report a bully because it could escalate the situation, especially if they interact with their bully in real life. With this tool, a bully will still be able to see their own comment on their target’s post, but other Instagrammers won't know the comment exists. By restricting a bully, the user is in full control over mean comments while keeping a bully unaware that others are not seeing their taunts.

How can users take advantage of this feature? To restrict comments from a certain account, users should first find a comment that was left on any of their photos. If you swipe left over the comment, a "restrict" option will appear. The person you restrict will not receive a notification they've been silenced. Instead, they'll be able to continue posting their nasty comments to an audience of only themselves.

Other social media platforms are making similar changes. Twitter introduced a feature called "hide replies," which is similar to the Instagram "Restrict" idea, but with one main difference. When a Twitter user hides replies, they are still accessible to the public through a drop-down menu that allows any user to see what hidden comments were left in the thread.