Organisations tighten security in light of Safer Internet Day

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 09 Feb 2022

Google, TikTok and digital skills organisation Digify Africa are among companies that are playing their part to create a safer internet for digital citizens, in light of Safer Internet Day (SID) celebrated across the globe yesterday.

Themed, “Together for a better internet”, SID is observed globally in February each year, to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones for children and adults, and is now celebrated in around 150 countries worldwide.

The initiative was launched in 2004 as part of the European Union SafeBorders project to protect internet users from online threats, including hate speech, fake news, increased cyber threats and identity theft.

As part of its mission to promote online safety in the classroom, Digify Africa has introduced Kitso, a WhatsApp learning bot designed specifically for educators. It offers a convenient way for them to access a wide range of content, such as advice on dealing with cyber bullying, harassment and misinformation, and protecting users’ online space.

The bot also provides teachers with insights to understand their digital footprint, which will enable them to empower their learners with the tools they need to safely navigate the online space.

“Kitso’s main objective is to facilitate easy access to digital learning material and empower educators to be more informed and better positioned to understand the safety challenges young people face online,” says Digify Africa.

“Kitso is an addition to Ilizwe Lam (or “My World”), an online safety programme introduced by Digify Africa with the support of Facebook, which promotes online safety for teachers and parents with the tools they need to safely navigate their online space.”

Digify Africa has to date released a series of WhatsApp learning bots – Naledi, Kitso and Lesedi – which cater to a different skills gap but are designed to break access barriers to digital skill and resources.

Yesterday, video-sharing platform TikTok held Safer Internet Day workshops in Cape Town, to inform participants about online safety.

During the workshops, the company announced it has strengthened its security for users and introduced updates to its Community Guidelines, to support the well-being of its community and the integrity of the platform.

Among the main updates announced, TikTok says it continues to expand its system that detects and removes certain categories of violations at upload – including adult nudity and sexual activities, minor safety, and illegal activities and regulated goods.

“The most recent report shows that over 91 million ‘violative’ videos were removed during Q3 2021, which is around 1% of all videos uploaded. Of those videos, 95% were removed before a user reported it, 88% before the video received any views, and 93% within 24 hours of being posted,” says TikTok public policy and government relations director Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda.

Meanwhile, internet giant Google says it is working on expanding its two-step verification (2SV) process for logins, by making it mandatory for users, in an effort to beef up its security.

Google says the expanded measures will now automatically enrol users in 2SV, across all mobile phones, to confirm a user’s identity every time they access their Google account from a different device.

It is also working on new technologies that will provide a secure, seamless sign-in experience and eliminate reliance on passwords that have turned out to be a major cause of data breaches and phishing attempts.