Social media is fun to use and quite entertaining for many of us. But when the question of safety comes in play, especially for those that may not be in position to secure their presence online, it becomes a sensitive matter altogether. There has always been question marks on how much social media platforms do to protect children using them.
Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, says that Facebook has been developing ways to protect children on the platform from predators over the past couple of years. This, she says, is in addition to the already ongoing plans to have messages encrypted on Facebook family apps.
Earlier in the year, Mark Zuckerberg stated clearly the company’s encryption plans, something that numerous authorities around the world did not agree to. Majority of these were warning that encryption could allow predators to target children and sexually exploit them amidst a ‘hard to catch’ situation.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Ms Davis emphasized that Facebook is looking at shifting its focus to preventative measures, to stop predators from contacting their intended victims in the first place, from the now existent content flagging and removal.
“When you find content, the problem with that is the harm has already been done. Ultimately you want to prevent that content from being shared in the first place, or from being created. So the way we are thinking about it is, how can we stop these connections?”
The way forward?
Facebook will have to start watching closely on accounts making a series of chat requests with minors with whom they have no prior connection, or those part of suspicious groups. The company also plans on putting in place alerts for people with large age gaps talking privately on Messenger and Instagram DM or for accounts trying to contact minors when they’ve been blocked by a lot of other people.
Facebook could as well start scanning photos for comments to find accounts with patterns of bad behavior. Davis also says that the company is testing how to make reporting more accessible when users most need it such as when someone blocks them or deletes a thread.
Apparently, the social media platform is working closely with child safety experts before launching end-to-end encryption.