Facebook announces to launch digital literacy programs in Pakistan next year to educate people about internet safety

Facebook requires users to be at least 13 years old before they could create an account, but in some jurisdictions, this age limit is higher.

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Despite being one of the countries where the majority of the content is restricted on Facebook, cases of harassment remain low-key due to lack of reporting, this is because people aren’t well aware of the reporting mechanisms.

On Thursday, speakers at an awareness talk stated that the use of social media platforms was becoming unsafe for women, and ensuring the safety and rights of the users was becoming a big challenge.

The talk, called ‘Creating Safe Online Spaces: safety for women’ was organized by Facebook to showcase the steps it was taking to eliminate the offensive content, which was aimed at women and children.

Speakers at the event highlighted that not only women but men were unwilling to report online harassment, including sending of images which were non-consensual.

Amber Hawkes, Facebook’s head of Safety Policy for the Asia-Pacific region, said that what was disallowed on the social media platforms as mentioned in the Facebook Community Standards and Instagram Community Guidelines.

As per her, these guidelines were developed by local partners and teams spread across the world, and the content was also being monitored.

“This year, over five million pieces on child exploitation were removed globally and 99 percent were detected by the artificial intelligence tools,” – Ms. Hawkes added.

Facebook is set to launch digital literacy programs in Pakistan in 2020 with the aid of local partners, like DRF (Digital Rights Foundation). These programs will give publicity to the safe use of social media platforms and highlight the reporting mechanisms that people can use to report harassment.

Shmyla Khan, DRF program and research manager, talked about all the online threats women faced, which were extortion, blackmailing, sending of the non-consensual use of intimate images (NCII), accessing private data, trolling and graphic threats, etc.

She said that the internet was being monitored by the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (Peca) through Section 21 and 24. Law enforcement agencies could prosecute harassers in online spaces under Section 20 (criminal defamation).

She also added that men could also lodge complaints under the law, which implies unwanted contact, distributing information without consent and spying.

Strict policy for teenagers to create a social media account:

Ms. Shmyla stated that Peca was under the jurisdiction of FIA, but it lacked the capacity to deal with the complaints and the officials did not act on time and were gender insensitive.

Sehar Tariq, Facebook Public Policy Manager, said that there was a strict policy for teenagers to create a social media account.

“We have zero tolerance for child exploitation ima­gery and take proactive and aggressive measures to protect our young users from predators,” – she said.

She also added that Facebook requires users to be at least 13 years old before they could create an account, but in some jurisdictions, this age limit is higher.

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