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Facebook, Digity Africa spread online safety message

Facebook, Digity Africa spread online safety message

Facebook has partnered with Digify Africa to host Internet safety training sessions for a thousand young South Africans in the next two months.

The Internet giant wants to help young people protect their information and image online, at a time when it is being scrutinised for not protecting its users' data during the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

The world's largest social network has committed to training a thousand 13- to 18-year-olds at eight youth clubs and more than 50 high schools across the country, in face-to-face sessions. The lessons and resources will also be put online, so teachers not part of the selected schools can run the course.

The programme aims to teach young people how to keep themselves safe online. Topics include understanding your digital footprint; Facebook community standards and core policies around hate speech, bullying, harassment, nudity and self-injury; the importance of reporting; privacy settings; and identifying false news and fake profiles.

"We know online safety is important, especially among our youth who now live most of their lives online, so we want to be able to provide them with the tools to do so safely," says Emilar Gandhi, public policy manager for the Southern African Development Community region for Facebook.

"We know that people will only come to Facebook if it's a safe place to connect and share with the people they care about. We also know that how the youth use social media is different to how us adults use social media, and that is why we believe a programme like this is so important."

Facebook has said youth ambassadors will also be appointed at the various high schools and youth clubs where the programme will be held, to keep the online safety conversation going.

"We know that online safety is important, especially among our youth who now live most of their lives online, so we want to be able to provide them with the tools in doing so safely. We know that what young people put on social media now, may not be how they want to represent themselves in the future," says Gandhi.

"The aim of this programme is to get young people thinking about what they share online and the impact this could have on them and others."

Information and resources are available in the Facebook Safety Centre and Bullying Prevention Hub.

Facebook says the initiative is in the pilot stage, and it will evaluate the success to determine if it will roll out further face-to-face training sessions.

Digify Africa is an initiative by youth agency Livity Africa, a company that has facilitated various face-to-face youth training sessions for imparting digital skills from large tech companies.

In 2016, Livity Africa teamed up with Google to run training sessions in digital skills that would help upskill unemployed youth across Africa.

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