With social media campaigns giving voice to women on one hand, and Twitter trolls on the other, a panel discussion here talked about how social media can be used to ensure a safe online experience for women. Titled “The Social Safety Network”, the panel discussion held here recently, threw light on the safety policies of popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and search engine giant Google. Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director at Facebook believes it has become vital to understand what the local stakeholders and users are seeing around on the platform and develop safety policies accordingly. “Despite having policies which are used to combat objectionable content on the Facebook we have done a partnership with local platforms like ‘Youth Ki Awaz’ for a program called ‘social surfing’, especially to analyze what local users feel about the content on the platform,” Das said. Das noted how a program run by Facebook on the ground, recently found a “lack of knowledge among users about the community standards and significance of the reporting button”.
“Unwanted content and issue of the fake profile have often surfaced on Facebook but with several tools and reporting mechanism, every piece of content on the platform is reportable. We are looking for several other preventive measures too,” she said. Organized by SheThePeople.TV, the panel also looked into the role of these platforms in providing education and empowering women in rural areas. Google’s ‘Internet Saathi’ program that will soon be rolled out in Bihar and Haryana, to help rural women go online, is one such initiative. “We have around ten million rural women from thousand villages, who are planning to work online. We have integrated a curriculum in vernacular languages to educate people about how to keep their passwords and monetary transactions safe,” Sunita Mohanty from Google said.
Meanwhile, Twitter, which has become a platform giving freeway to online trolls in the recent times, is working on developing stronger mechanisms to ensure online safety.Mahima Kaul, Head of Public Policy and Government at Twitter, added that analyzing the percentage of complaints specifically filed by women was difficult as the user profiles varied across the platform. “Since we have different kinds of users and receivers using the platform when people talk about sensitive issues like sexuality and domestic violence, many do not want to use their real names and we allow that. Therefore, we do not have any specific data on the complaints filed by women.
“Through several mechanisms, we get to know what a user’s reaction will be if they come across trolls or objectionable data. But the bigger threat is how users approach being online. What I feel is that one will be challenged sometimes for the political or social issues that they raise on the internet and that is the choice a user makes for herself,” Kaul said.