DUBAI: Meta marked Safer Internet Day on Feb. 8 by launching “My Digital World,” a portal dedicated to educating users in the MENA region.
The website includes the company’s digital literacy resources in English, Arabic and French, and is aimed at keeping users, particularly young people, safe on the Internet. The website also features learning modules that Meta has created in partnerships with experts in the region for students aged 13-18 years old.
“Our mission has always been to create platforms where people can connect and share their experiences with others from all around the world. But people cannot connect with others and express themselves freely without feeling safe,” a Meta spokesperson told Arab News.
Meta also launched a public safety campaign in Lebanon in partnership with nonprofit Himaya, which promotes the protection of children and families from all types of abuse. The campaign, “Report it. Don’t Share it.,” aims to prevent the spread of child sexual abuse material.
Additionally, Instagram partnered with NGOs and governmental entities in Egypt and Morocco to launch awareness campaigns addressing online bullying on social media platforms.
“Meta is investing heavily in tools to safeguard people and devote significant resources to ensure our platforms offer them a safe and positive experience,” the spokesperson added.
Despite these efforts, Meta remains widely criticized for its practices and policies, from content moderation and hate speech concerns to issues surrounding mental health and teen safety.
Just last year, whistleblower Frances Haugen shed light on several such issues by leaking internal documents to the Wall Street Journal, resulting in the publishing of “The Facebook Files.” She also appeared before the US Senate. Among these issues, Instagram’s impact on teenagers’ mental health and body image issues was of grave concern.
The documents revealed that 32 percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse. More than 40 percent of teen users in the US and UK who reported feeling “unattractive” said that the feelings started when using Instagram.
When asked if initiatives such as “My Digital World” will address these issues, the spokesperson said: “The reason we are launching ‘My Digital World’ is to empower and educate people, particularly the youth, to make digitally safe decisions and give them the information they need. Our world has become increasingly digital — the website will provide research-informed lessons, tips and resources that will help young people develop the skills they need to navigate and thrive in today’s complex digital world.
“We know our job is never done when it comes to safety on Meta. We will continue to build better tools, improve our policies and partner with experts to create a safer Meta experience,” the spokesperson added.