Today (11th February) is Safer Internet Day, which is focused on educating people across the globe about security while online and how to be safe when using the internet. To mark the occasion, Facebook too is focusing on Safer Internet Day, and turning to its partners to help raise awareness on the African continent.

Facebook has specifically partnered with nine organisations on the continent for this initiative, three of which are based in South Africa, and all of whom are working under the theme of “together for a better internet”.

This year’s partner’s for Safer Internet Day are:

In terms of what Facebook is focusing on for Safer Internet Day, the company is highlighting several of its online tools which assist in making online spaces safer for users, the firm explains.

“We’re committed to ensuring Facebook and Instagram are places for everyone, especially the youth,” says Jocelyne Muhutu-Rémy, strategic media partnerships manager for Facebook in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“That’s why we offer a range of tools on our platforms to give people full control over their experience, and work with our partners to drive awareness about the practices, resources and tools people can use to protect their online wellbeing,” she adds.

The tools that Muhutu-Rémy refers to include:

  • New tools on Instagram that filter comments that may be inappropriate, offensive or bullying.
  • The platform’s AI can detect potentially offensive messages, which will then prompt a notice to be sent to that user stating that their language has been reported for bullying. They will then have an opportunity to edit the caption or comment before posting.
  • The Instagram Safety Centre is a place where you can learn more about the safety features on Instagram.
  • The Youth Portal, which is a central place for teens to get a better understanding of Facebook’s products, hear from other peers, and get tips and advice on controlling their experience. This is part of  the safety centre, a resource for topics like suicide prevention, social resolution and bullying prevention.
  • Use of artificial intelligence to help identify when someone might be expressing thoughts of suicide, including on Facebook Live and Instagram Live.

“We share Facebook’s commitment to creating a safer online environment, characterised by community, respect and kindness. It’s a pleasure to once again work with Facebook on this important annual day of awareness,” adds Qhakaza Mthembu, COO at Digify Africa.

With the internet becoming an increasingly difficult environment for users to interact and express themselves freely, the addition of new tools is welcome.

That said more can always be done to highlight and raise awareness apart from just Safer Internet Day, which is what we’re hoping companies like Facebook and others are pushing towards.