Facebook and BeSmartOnline! highlight safety concerns of social networking

Youths aged between 13 and 17 were given tips on how they should behave online in order to have a positive experience on Facebook and Instagram.

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Paul Cocks
15 March 2017, 4:04pm
Malta ranks in at second place across all EU countries in terms of the number of internet users that engage is social media activity.
Malta ranks in at second place across all EU countries in terms of the number of internet users that engage is social media activity.
Students and teachers from a number of schools, institutes and departments were recently given a run-down on various safety aspects in social networking, during a two-day programme organised by BeSmartOnline! and Facebook.

The BeSmartOnline! project is implemented by the Malta Communications Authority, the Foundation for Social Welfare Services and the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education.

Representatives from Facebook’s safety team and BeSmartOnline! visited students at St Michael’s Church School, Higher Secondary in Naxxar and the Youth Café group in Cottonera, which is managed by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ.

Youths aged between 13 and 17 were given tips on how they should behave online in order to have a positive experience on Facebook and Instagram. A number of resources were distributed, including a booklet specifically designed and developed by Facebook, which was also translated to Maltese.

On the second day, over 140 educators from various schools across Malta and Gozo were given an explanation of the measures Facebook takes to contribute to the well-being of youth.

They were introduced to Facebook's internal mechanism that deals with reports received and the difficulties and restrictions they encounter; the difficulties brought about by the complex nature of some of the reports received, either by ethical and/or legislative restrictions; and the sheer number of reports and data exchanged.

Moreover, they were given a thorough explanation of the resources Facebook produce specifically for educators and how these can be adapted in schools.

The rise of social media has sparked numerous discussions on the impact it is having on personal and social relationships. Regardless of the potential negative perceptions, one cannot ignore the opportunities offered through the positive use of social media tools.

Facebook has undertaken various initiatives to exploit its unique position of having such an extensive and complex networked community and has been very active in the field of missing children through initiatives such as Child Rescue Alert and Amber Alert – recently launched in Malta.

Most recently Facebook has introduced suicide prevention tools, which exploit the intricacies of friends in order to connect a person in distress with people who can support them. These, and other initiatives, are undertaken as part of Facebook's drive to help build a safe community both online and offline.

Laura Bononcini, Head of Public Policy for Italy, Greece and Malta, said that Facebook believes safety is the shared responsibility of all social media user.

“This is why we provide tools that help you stay safe while using Facebook, we want to educate people on Facebook and encourage them to use our safety features,” she said.

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Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...