Last week, the social networking site Facebook, in cooperation with Online Safety Lebanon, hosted a workshop in Beirut to discuss their approach to community policy, give tips and tools on securing Facebook profiles and Pages, and address children’s safety online. SMEX attended the one-day workshop that gathered various stakeholders from the field. Here is a quick summary of what was covered:
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On creating successful policies for online safety
So how does an organization like Facebook approach online safety? Ashraf Zeitoon, Facebook’s head of public policy in the MENA region, discussed how Facebook views online safety as a shared responsibility that should be taken very seriously, while Julie de Bailliencourt, Facebook’s safety policy manager in Europe and the Middle East, summarized Facebook’s approach into five key areas:

  • Policies for the Facebook community
  • Tools to help resolve problems
  • Help at every point in the service
  • Partnerships to complement their experts
  • Feedback to keep on improving

de Bailliencourt discussing Facebook's online safety policies
de Bailliencourt discussing Facebook’s online safety policies

When asked about how Facebook sets its online safety policies and what mechanisms they use to improve them, de Bailliencourt stated: “Our policies are never fixed, even if we have a global policy we are always looking for feedback from the local community to help us in improving our policies, because what might seem appropriate to someone in California may be offensive to someone in India for example.”
Because Facebook relies on its users to help calibrate its policies, primarily by encouraging them to report abusive content or spam, de Bailliencourt also reviewed Facebook’s content-reporting procedures, including:

  • Reporting content is always 100% confidential.
  • Anything can be reported whether it is a message, a picture or even a comment.
  • It is advisable to always report the intended content itself; for example if a comment is abusive the user should report the comment and not the page that the comment was posted on.
  • Every piece of content that is reported is matched with a team to resolve it based on its category. Facebook has four teams to deal with reports which include a safety, hate, harassment and access team.

She also stated Facebook does not weight the volume of reports in its decision to remove content, so reporting content once is enough.
Useful Facebook safety advice
The workshop also highlighted tools that users can use to secure their Facebook accounts and Pages. Among the recommendations were to conduct a privacy checkup, which allows you to see how others see your profile and thinking before sharing a post, specifically for teens. Here are a list of helpful tools that you can start using today:

Online Safety for Children

Akram Karameh discussing online safety for children
Akram Karameh discussing online safety for children

The workshop also dealt with another key Internet safety issue: online safety for children. Akram Karameh, founder and director of Online Safety Lebanon, encouraged the audience to realize that the Internet has become an integral part of our lives. Instead of fearing it or being overly cautious, he recommended educating yourself and your children about how to stay safe online and make wise online choices.

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