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I feels like there's a natural focus on child Internet safety issues this week.  We celebrate Internet Watch Foundation Awareness Day (more on that on Wednesday) and it’s also National Anti-Bullying Week in the US, as well as being International Anti-Bullying Month worldwide.

To mark this, Facebook have stepped up their safety measures with a new anti-bullying page in their Family Safety Centre, with ‘tools, tips and programmes to help people stand up for each other’. The emphasis is on conflict resolution, of working together to combat bullying.

If I’m really honest I find the ‘Daniel Cui’ video a little  irritating in its Disney-ending  recount of a bullying case study, but then, I’m not the target audience, and the ‘empowerment’ message is important. The emphasis is on providing people with the tools to resolve their own conflicts, by directing them to resources and adding processes to (for example) let friends know exactly why you don’t like the photo they tagged you in.

Reporting content posted by friends

Facebook have recognised that the majority of cases where people are upsetting each other on Facebook don’t actually contravene Facebook terms, so really, friends need to sort it out between themselves.  They’re working on the premise that most people are basically nice: if they understand exactly why they upset you, they’ll stop doing it.  Or, as Facebook would say: “by enabling compassionate communication to take place, conflicts are much more likely to be resolved” …

 

 

From Facebook’s research, this approach is working: 65% of the people who get the message ‘feel positive’ about the person who raised the concern.

The new anti-bullying page contains links to the anti-bullying campaign page: Stop Bullying: Speak Up, instructions on how to report content and – a welcome recent addition – how to check on the progress of a report you’ve made.

To help victims of bullying on Facebook, specifically for teens, Facebook offer an ‘evidence-capture’ service  to send a copy of the abusive contact to someone they trust, who can hopefully help them through the issue.

Natch: this system of reporting content through to someone you trust, is called by Facebook the ‘Trusted Friend’ tool.  Which is exactly what they named a password retrieval system last year – the digital equivalent of leaving your keys with your neighbours.  (Except that, as you only leave parts of your log in with each, you get a fun scavenger hunt too).   Anyhow, some digging revealed that the anti-bullying feature ‘Trusted friend’ feature can only be accessed during the process of making a report: you won’t find a direct link to it by searching.

I think Facebook are – generally speaking – doing a pretty good job in countering bullying and trying to help us help ourselves.  The whole reporting system is vastly improved  on what it was a few years ago. However, the social network has finite resources, and is still notoriously slow to respond, and all the recent improvements have added layers of complexity to the help features.  Unless you really know what you’re looking for and you’re fairly determined to find it, the myriad safety resources,  advice centres, reporting processes, tips and tools can be a little confusing.

 

Watch out for more on child safety issues from us at eModeration this week, including stories from our moderators: what it’s like working at the coal-face of child internet safety.