February 9, 2016 was labelled “Safer Internet Day. The event took place at Universal Studios Hollywood in California after it being held in Europe for the past 13 years.

Online bullying is a relevant topic today as a number of teenagers have committed suicide after being bullied online. As far back as 2003, a 13-year-old boy hanged himself after being tormented by classmates on AOL Instant Messenger. Recently, a 14-year-old in Las Vegas hanged herself after people in school made a fake Facebook page impersonating and mocking her. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that in 2014, nearly 15% of teens were bullied on the Internet. The Internet has such a broad spectrum. On one hand, people can watch “It Gets Better” video and support blogs and on the other people see hate comments and cruel pictures about the victim.

That is why Safer Internet Day was held to bring awareness and actively work toward creating a safe environment in the cyber world. Nearly 300 students attended and more watched the Webcast of a Los Angeles event to hear about the problems caused online. Last Tuesday’s event featured a panel of teen activists called “Rejecting Hate, Building Resilience & Growing the Good Online”. The panelists included Helen Le, a junior at Loara High School in Orange County, California, who campaigns for positivity on social media with the hastag #iCANHELP, and Ruby Rawlinson, a senior at Redwood High School in Marin County, California, who pitched in on a campaign called “Be Kind Online”.

Later this month, the RSA Conference will be held in San Francisco. Shifting the focus to the parents, experts will give parents tips on protecting their children from online harassment and other dilemmas. Sandra Toms, RSA Conference vice president, said talking with kids and setting expectations is the most important thing a parent can do to prevent cyber bullying. Parents are encouraged to stay involved in their child’s life.

“The more open you are and available you are as a parent when they’re young, the better,” Toms said.

Photo: [365] 109 via Corie Howell [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

The power of social media is evident in India. On Sunday, January 31, Delhi police organized a unique rescue reuniting a lost Alzheimer’s patient with her family in just 2 hours with the help of Twitter.

A police van discovered 80-year-old Kamla Gupta in north Delhi. The city’s Deputy Commissioner of Police Madhur Verma tweeted her details. Gupta, an Alzheimer’s patient, had lost her way after visiting a temple that morning. She could not remember her home address even after being taken to the police station.

The tweet included a photo of her and a text saying “Smt Kamla Gupta, 80..found in Ashok Vihar..unable to recall her address. If u identify pls contact PS Ashok Vihar.”

Soon after the tweet, a businessman named Vishal Kumar shared the information on a Facebook group. After the family reached out to him, Kumar then connected the family to Deputy Verma. Kamla Gupta was reunited with her family in a few hours.

Madhur Verma tweeted a picture of the family together saying, “That’s the power of social media. Thanks @TwitterIndia. Family members of Mrs Kamla Gupta traced in less then 2 hrs!”

Police forces in several Indian cities are increasingly using social media as a means to communicate with their citizens. Their pages offer updates on crime and troubleshoot problems and solutions. The Delhi police created its own Twitter in December 2015. Deputy Verma however has been using Twitter since 2014. In March 2015, he received accolades on his role in rescuing 3 lost children stranded at a railway station in Delhi. A journalist tweeted photographs of the kids and Verma launched a search mission to help reunite them with their parents.

“Twitter is a great platform for reaching out to citizens, and presenting our side of the story. If you are available online and on social media, you can catch the pulse of the society and even challenge unfounded rumors,” Verma says.

Article via Mashable, February 1, 2016

Photo: Twitter Superman via Irish Typepad [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

Researchers have begun to dive into studies of how the objectification of women in sexist ads portray the way society sees them in real life.

In late 2015, Madonna Badger, ad agency co-founder and creative director of Badger & Winters took part in the #WomenNotObjects campaign. As a result, she came across an endless number of ads that exploited women’s bodies simply because “sex sells.” In the campaign video, the majority of the women mocked each ad as the video progresses, but one said, “I’m only here for your entertainment,” which ironically is the hard truth behind these ads.

In honor of Badger’s late daughters, who passed in an unfortunate event in 2011, she compiled a video to step forward in the campaign. Badger wanted to make a change and help young women.

“I want my life to have a purpose,” said Badger. She wanted to expose the ad industry for its objectification of women and the negative effects it puts on youth.

“I love my job but I don’t want to do if it if hurts anyone.”

Ad models know that they are there to make the product look good by looking good. They step into the scene fully understanding the exploitation of their sexuality, but that does not mean they agree with it.

Badger hopes to raise awareness of this culture by the use of the hashtag #WomenNotObjects as a conversation starter.

“I am your mother, daughter, sisters, coworker, manager, CEO,” a mantra used to help kill the culture of objectification of women.

In order to teach society to respect women, we need to start from the root. Children of this decade are born and raised into this culture, so if there is any method — it is simply teaching children to respect women from a young age so that they can grow to be a better generation.

Article via Mashable, 27 January 2015
Photo: Racy chewing gum ad in London by Todd Mecklem [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

Tami Reiss aims to prevent the use of tentative, apologetic qualifiers that many women use in the workplace with her new Gmail plug-in, Just Not Sorry. Offered for Google Chrome, the plug-in underlines tempering words like “sorry” and “just” written in emails and alerts the user with a pop-up describing the used phrase’s connotation. Tami Reiss is the CEO of the consulting firm Cyrus Innovation.

“The women in these rooms were all softening their speech in situations that called for directness and leadership,” Reiss said of her experience working at Cyrus Innovation. “We had all inadvertently fallen prey to a cultural communication pattern that undermined our ideas. As entrepreneurial women, we run businesses and lead teams—why aren’t we writing with the confidence of their positions?”

The plug-in has inspired a movement to ensure that #10000women send direct, unapologetic emails consistently throughout 2016. It has already been downloaded by thousands of users.

“This app prevented me from needlessly writing I am sorry in 6 emails today alone,” wrote one user in a review on Google Chrome’s Web Store. “LOVE IT. Thank you. #sorrynotsorry.”

Article via Good, 30 December 2015

Photo: Yackathon! Yelp’s First Community Hackathon in Montreal by Yelp Inc. [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

Facebook is promising to fight hate speech amid the European refugee crisis.

“In the past year, we’ve seen millions of people come together online to support refugees and stand in solidarity with the victims of terror attacks,” wrote Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in a post on Monday. “But we’ve also heard voices of hate growing louder. With extremism damaging lives and societies across the world, challenging those voices has never been more important.”

The company did not disclose a particular plan, but they did announce the Online Civil Courage Initiative, meant to empower users to fight against hate speech. It also appears that Facebook will be backing more powerful non-governmental organizations which are already involved in fighting radicalism and hate speech online.

The Online Civil Courage initiative is yet another effort to prevent hate speech on social media. In December, Facebook and other companies like Google and Twitter agreed to remove instances of hate speech within 24 hours, in accordance with an agreement with Germany authorities. German politicians and celebrities also voiced concern about rising hatred on social media, as nearly 1.1 million migrants and refugees entered the country in 2015 alone. Last August, Germany’s minister of justice asked Facebook to remove racist posts targeting asylum seekers.  Three months after that prosecutors opened a criminal investigation because they suspected that Facebook failed to take down a wave of anti-immigrant posts on the social network, inciting racial hatred.

Following the terror attacks in Paris, France also called on Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Google and Microsoft to combat extremist propaganda and expand safety tools in the event of a future attack.

“Hate speech has no place online — or in society,” Sandberg said. “Together, we can make sure the voices of peace, truth and tolerance are heard. Love is louder than hate.”


Article via Mashable, 19 January 2016

Photo:Facebook icon by Jurgen Appelo[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

Federal administration officials collaborated with senior executives from several large tech firms at last week’s summit on terrorist communication via social media. General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin represented the Department of Justice at the conference. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, and other large Silicon Valley companies attended. The meeting was part of President Obama’s overall mission as announced last week to combat violent extremism both internationally and domestically.

“Today’s developments reflect President Obama’s commitment to take every possible action to confront and interdict terrorist activities wherever they occur, including online,” said National Security Council representative Ned Price.

Multiple tech firms discussed their goals to prevent communication between terrorists on their social media outlets. “We explained our policies and how we enforce them—Facebook does not tolerate terrorists or terror propaganda and we work aggressively to remove it as soon as we become aware of it,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

The summit came after the Department of Homeland Security’s and the Department of Justice’s announcement of the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force, an amalgamation of different agencies given the task of “discourage[ing] violent extremism and undercut[ting] terrorist narratives” with an additional goal to “build relationships and promote trust” with certain communities across the country, said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

Article via TechNewsWorld, 13 January 2016

Photo: President Obama Talks to the Crew of Atlantis (P052009PS-0698) by NASA HQ PHOTO. [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]