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January 10, 2024

Content about suicide, self-harm and eating disorders to be hidden from kids on Instagram and Facebook 

  • Meta has announced measures to conceal content related to suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders on Instagram and Facebook for users under 18.
  • New rules ensure that even if shared by someone they follow, individuals under 18 won’t see such content on their feeds.
  • Instead, mental health resources from charities will be displayed when users post about self-harm or eating disorders.
  • Young people on Instagram and Facebook are now placed in the most restrictive content control setting, reducing their exposure to sensitive content.
  • The updates will be implemented gradually in the coming months.
  • Andy Burrows, an adviser to the Molly Rose Foundation, reported: “While Meta’s policy changes are welcome, the vast majority of harmful content currently available on Instagram isn’t covered by this announcement, and the platform will continue to recommend substantial amounts of dangerous material to children.”
  • The charity found that nearly half of the highly engaged posts under prominent suicide and self-harm hashtags on Instagram in November glorified or referenced suicide and self-harm, suicidal ideation, and themes of misery, hopelessness, or depression.
  • For more, please visit the Yahoo News website.

TikTok Quietly Curtails Data Tool Used by Critics 

  • TikTok has quietly limited the Creative Center tool, designed for advertisers to track popular hashtags, following its misuse by researchers and lawmakers examining content related to geopolitics and the Israel-Hamas war.
  • The tool, accessible to anyone, previously allowed users to generate figures on the number of videos linked to a specific hashtag and details about the audience viewing those videos.
  • As of last week, there has been the removal of the “search” button and links for hashtags related to the war, aimed at preventing misuse.
  • Alex Haurek, a company spokesman reported: “Unfortunately, some individuals and organisations have misused the Center’s search function to draw inaccurate conclusions, so we are changing some of the features to ensure it is used for its intended purpose.”
  • The Network Contagion Research Institute at Rutgers University, which tracks misinformation and extremism online, flagged the changes last week.
  • For more, please visit the New York Times website.

The following story may be regionalised:

Children committing half of reported child sexual abuse offences, new figures reveal 

  • In 2022, data from 42 police forces in England and Wales shows that 106,984 child sexual abuse offenses were reported, marking a 7.6% increase from the previous year and over five times the just over 20,000 recorded in2 013.
  • The surge in child-on-child abuse is attributed to access to violent pornography and smartphones, according to police.
  • A significant 52% of reported cases involved a child aged 10-17 as a suspect or perpetrator.
  • The youngest reported case involved a four-year-old uploading an indecent image of a sibling using a smartphone.
  • Common offenses by 10 to 17-year-olds include sexual assault on a female (15%), rape of a female under 16 (12%), and the creation or sharing of indecent images.
  • It also found that 73% of crimes were committed directly against children, with around a third involving abuse within families. The rest related to indecent images.
  • Some predators are using AI and “deep fake” technology to create indecent images, including techniques like ‘nudification’ techniques on real pictures.
  • “Sextortion,” where children are blackmailed with the threat of compromising images being sent to family or released on social media unless money is paid., is also highlighted in the report.
  • Ian Critchley, the national policing lead for child abuse protection, calls for tech companies to do more to safeguard children and criticises the use of end-to-end encryption.
  • Mr Critchley emphasises the importance of the Online Safety Act in holding firms accountable.
  • For more, please visit the Sky News website.